Asperger syndrome is a neurological disorder resulting in a group of social and behavioral symptoms. It is part of a category of conditions called autism spectrum disorders. Children with Asperger syndrome usually have normal intelligence and do not have the language problems typical of autism.
The cause of Asperger syndrome is unknown. Some experts believe a variety of factors may be responsible.
Infant Brain—Period of Rapid Development
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Asperger syndrome is more common in boys. Family history of autism spectrum disorder may also be a risk factor.
Symptoms usually become noticeable around 2-½ or 3 years of age. Symptoms may range from mild to severe and can include:
There are no tests for Asperger syndrome. The diagnosis is based on observations of the child's behavior. Neuropsychological and IQ tests may be done. Medical tests may be ordered to help rule out other conditions. Children and their families can benefit from early intervention. Knowing what is wrong also helps families understand why the child acts differently than other children.
There is no treatment to cure Asperger syndrome. Treatments aim to control symptoms and improve social skills. Children often learn to function independently when they become adults. However, they usually continue to experience problems with social interaction. They may be at risk for learning disabilities, such as attention deficit disorder (ADD). They also may develop mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety . Children with Asperger syndrome need love and understanding, as well as a structured schedule.
Drugs to help control symptoms may include:
The supplement melatonin may be helpful in improving sleep. But, talk to the doctor before giving herbs or supplements to your child.
Behavior modification therapy and training can help children develop social skills. Learning how to make and keep friends is a challenge for children with Asperger syndrome.
Caring for a child with Asperger syndrome can be stressful. Counselors help parents learn how to manage the child's behavior. Suggestions include:
Children with Asperger syndrome usually have a normal IQ. However, they have special educational needs. They often can attend regular schools. They may need extra support in the classroom. Special attention should be paid to building social skills. Teachers should be informed of the child's needs. Children with Asperger syndrome may be teased or bullied because they seem different.
Asperger Syndrome Education Network
Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support (OASIS)
Autism Society Canada
Asperger syndrome. Nemours Kid's Health website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/brain/asperger.html. Updated January 2012. Accessed February 21, 2013.
Asperger syndrome fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/asperger/detail_asperger.htm. Updated February 4, 2013. Accessed February 21, 2013.
Asperger's syndrome. Autism Society website. Available at: http://www.autism-society.org/about-autism/aspergers-syndrome. Accessed February 21, 2013.
Autism spectrum disorders. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated February 14, 2013. Accessed February 21, 2013.
Cashin A, Sci DA. Two terms-one meaning: the conundrum of contemporary nomenclature in autism. J Child Adolesc Psychiatr Nurs. 2006;19:137-144.
Filipek PA, et al. Practice parameter: Screening and diagnosis of autism: Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society. Neurology. 2000;55(4):468-479.
Marcus RN, Owen R, et al. Safety and tolerability of aripiprazole for irritability in pediatric patients with autistic disorder: A 52-week, open-label, multicenter study. J Clin Psychiatry. 2011;72(9):1270-1276.
Mattila ML, Hurtig T, et al. Comorbid psychiatric disorders associated with Asperger syndrome/high-functioning autism: A community- and clinic-based study. J Autism Dev Disord. 2010;40(9):1080-1093.
Nass R, Ross G. Developmental Disabilities. In: Bradley WG, ed. Neurology in Clinical Practice. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Butterworth Heinemann Elsevier; 2008.
Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics.16th ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders Company; 2000.
Simonoff E. Genetic counseling in autism and pervasive developmental disorders. J Autism Dev Disord. 1998; 28: 447–456.
Venkat A, et al. Care of the patient with an autism spectrum disorder by the general physician. J Postgrad Med. 2012;88(1042):472-481.
Last reviewed January 2015 by Kari Kassir, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Copyright © 2012 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.
What can we help you find?close ×