Asperger's syndrome in children: symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment
Asperger's syndrome in children: symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment
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Asperger's syndrome in children: symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment

Asperger's syndrome in children: symptoms, causes, diagnosis and treatment
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Дата публикации: 20-01-2024 0:07:00

Asperger's syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder characterized by specific difficulties in social interaction, read more on the website - disorders autism-mmc.com/types-and-causes-of-autism/asperger-syndrome.. Children with Asperger syndrome have problems with nonverbal communication and establishing and maintaining friendships; prone to the same type of behavior and actions; have inhibited motor skills, stereotypical speech, narrowly focused and, at the same time, deep interests. The diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome is established on the basis of psychiatric, clinical, and neurological examination data. Children with Asperger syndrome need the development of social interaction skills, psychological and pedagogical support, and medical correction of the main symptoms.

General information

Asperger syndrome is a general developmental disorder related to high-functioning autism , in which the ability to socialize remains relatively intact. According to the classification accepted in modern psychiatry , Asperger's syndrome is one of the five autism spectrum disorders , along with early childhood autism (Kanner syndrome), childhood disintegrative disorder, Rett syndrome , and nonspecific pervasive developmental disorder ( atypical autism ).

According to foreign authors, signs that meet the criteria for Asperger syndrome occur in 0.36-0.71% of schoolchildren, while in 30-50% of children this syndrome remains undiagnosed. Asperger's syndrome is 2-3 times more common among the male population.

The syndrome was named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger, who observed a group of children with similar symptoms, which he himself characterized as “autistic psychopathy.” Since 1981, this disorder has been given the name “Asperger syndrome” in psychiatry. Children with Asperger syndrome have poorly developed abilities for social interaction, behavioral problems, and learning difficulties, and therefore require increased attention from teachers, child psychologists and psychiatrists.

Causes

The study of the causes of Asperger's syndrome continues to this day and is far from complete. The primary morphological substrate and pathogenesis of the disease have not yet been identified. As a working hypothesis, assumptions are made about an autoimmune reaction of the maternal body, causing damage to the fetal brain.

There is a lot of talk about the negative consequences of preventive vaccinations , the negative impact of mercury-containing preservatives in vaccines, as well as complex vaccinations, which allegedly overload the child’s immune system. The theory of hormonal imbalance in a child (low or high levels of cortisol, increased levels of testosterone) has not yet found reliable scientific confirmation; The connection between autistic disorders, including Asperger's syndrome, and prematurity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is being studied .

Possible risk factors for developing Asperger's syndrome are:

  • genetic predisposition,
  • male gender,
  • exposure to toxic substances on the developing fetus in the first months of pregnancy,
  • intrauterine and postnatal viral infections ( rubella , toxoplasmosis , cytomegaly , herpes , etc.).

Characteristics of Asperger's syndrome

Social difficulties

Asperger's syndrome is a complex general (pervasive) disorder that leaves an imprint on all aspects of the child's personality. The structure of the disorder includes difficulties in socialization, narrowly focused but intense interests; features of the speech profile and behavior. Unlike classic autism, children with Asperger's syndrome have average (sometimes above average) intelligence and a certain lexicographic base.

Typically, signs of Asperger's syndrome become noticeable by age 2-3 and can range from mild to severe. In infancy, Asperger's syndrome can manifest itself as increased calmness of the child or, on the contrary, irritability, mobility, sleep disturbance (difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings, sensitive sleep, etc.), selectivity in nutrition. Communication disorders specific to Asperger syndrome appear early. Children attending kindergarten have difficulty parting with their parents, do not adapt well to new conditions, do not play with other children, do not enter into friendly relationships, preferring to stay apart.

Difficulties in adaptation make the child vulnerable to infections, which is why children with Asperger syndrome are classified as frequently ill . In turn, this further limits children's social interaction with peers, and by school age the signs of Asperger's syndrome become pronounced.

Social behavior disorder in children with Asperger syndrome manifests itself in insensitivity to the emotions and feelings of other people, expressed by facial expressions, gestures, and shades of speech; inability to express one's own emotional state. Therefore, children with Asperger syndrome often seem self-centered, callous, emotionally cold, tactless, and unpredictable in their behavior. Many of them do not tolerate the touch of other people well, practically do not look into the eyes of the interlocutor, or look with an unusual fixed gaze (as if at an inanimate object).

A child with Asperger syndrome experiences the greatest difficulties when communicating with his peers, preferring the company of adults or young children. When interacting with other children (playing together, solving problems), a child with Asperger's syndrome tries to impose his own rules on others, does not compromise, cannot cooperate, and does not accept other people's ideas. In turn, the children's team also begins to reject such a child, which leads to even greater social isolation of children with Asperger syndrome. Teenagers have a hard time with their loneliness; they may experience depression , suicidal tendencies , and drug and alcohol addiction.

Features of intelligence

The IQ of children with Asperger syndrome may be within or even above the age norm. However, when teaching children, an insufficient level of development of abstract thinking and the ability to comprehend, and a lack of independent problem solving skills are revealed. Despite having phenomenal memory and encyclopedic knowledge, children sometimes cannot adequately apply their knowledge in the right situations. At the same time, Asperger children often achieve success in those areas in which they are passionately interested: usually history, philosophy, geography, mathematics, programming.

The range of interests of a child with Asperger syndrome is limited, but they devote themselves to their hobbies passionately and fanatically. At the same time, they focus excessively on details, concentrate on trifles, “obsess” with their hobbies, and are constantly in the world of their thoughts and fantasies.

Features of verbal communication

Children with Asperger's syndrome do not experience a delay in speech development , and by the age of 5-6 years their speech development is significantly ahead of their peers. The speech of a child with Asperger syndrome is grammatically correct, but is characterized by a slow or accelerated tempo, monotony and an unnatural timbre of the voice. Excessive academicism and a bookish style of speech, the presence of speech patterns contribute to the fact that the child is often called a “little professor.”

Children with Asperger's syndrome can talk for a very long time and in detail about a subject that interests them, without tracking the reaction of the interlocutor. Often they are not able to be the first to start a conversation and maintain a conversation that goes beyond their area of ​​interest. That is, despite potentially high language skills, children are not able to use language as a means of communication. Children with Asperger's syndrome often have semantic dyslexia - mechanical reading without understanding what they read. At the same time, children may have an increased ability to express their thoughts in writing.

Features of the sensory and motor spheres

Children with Asperger's syndrome are characterized by a sensory sensitivity disorder, which manifests itself in increased susceptibility to various visual, sound, and tactile stimuli (bright light, the sound of dripping water, street noise, touching the body, head, etc.). Since childhood, Aspergers have been characterized by excessive pedantry and stereotypical behavior. Children follow routine rituals day after day, and any change in conditions or routine causes them confusion, anxiety and worry. Very often, children with Asperger's syndrome have strictly defined gastronomic preferences and categorically deny any new dishes.

A child with Asperger's syndrome may have unusual obsessive fears (fear of rain, wind, etc.) that differ from the fears of children their age. Moreover, in dangerous situations they may lack the instinct of self-preservation and the necessary caution.

Typically, a child with Asperger's syndrome has impaired motor skills and coordination. They take longer than their peers to learn how to button up buttons and tie shoelaces; At school they have uneven, sloppy handwriting, which is why they receive constant criticism. Children with Aspergers may exhibit stereotypical compulsive movements, clumsiness, and abnormal posture and gait.

Diagnostics

Traits of Asperger's syndrome in a child can be detected by parents, caregivers, teachers, doctors of various specialties who monitor the development of children ( pediatrician , pediatric neurologist , speech therapist , child psychologist, etc.). However, the final authority to confirm the diagnosis remains with the child or adolescent psychiatrist .

In the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome, methods of questioning, interviewing parents and teachers, observing the child, and neuropsychological tests are widely used . The criteria for diagnosing Asperger's syndrome were developed by WHO and allow assessing a child's ability for various types of social contacts. To exclude organic diseases of the brain, neurological diagnostics ( EEG , MRI of the brain ) may be required.

Treatment for Asperger's Syndrome

There is no specific treatment for Asperger's syndrome. As pharmacological support, psychotropic drugs (neuroleptics, psychostimulants, antidepressants) can be prescribed on an individual basis. Non-drug therapy includes:

  • social skills trainings ,
  • Exercise therapy ,
  • classes with a speech therapist ,
  • cognitive behavioral psychotherapy .

Forecast

The success of social adaptation of children with Asperger syndrome largely depends on the organization of proper psychological and pedagogical support for a “special” child at various stages of his life. Despite the fact that children with Asperger syndrome can attend a general education school, they need individualized learning conditions (organization of a stable environment, creation of motivation that promotes academic success, support from a tutor, etc.).

The developmental disorder is not completely overcome, so a child with Asperger's syndrome grows into an adult with the same problems. In adulthood, a third of patients with Asperger syndrome are able to live independently, start a family, and work at a regular job. In 5% of individuals, problems of social adaptation are fully compensated and can only be identified with the help of neuropsychological testing . Particularly successful are people who find themselves in areas of interest where they show a high level of competence.

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