Aspergers Syndrome “Not ANOTHER diagnosis!”
Asperge’s Syndrome was first identified in 1944, but was only officially recognized as a diagnostic category in the DSM IV in 1994. As a result, many children were misdiagnosed over the years as ADD/HD, Autistic, OCD or even schizophrenic.
Many different terms are currently applied, leading to great confusion on the part of parents and educators. Aspergers Syndrome may also be referred to as High Functioning Autism (HFA), Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD – NOS), Atypical PDD or even Nonverbal Learning Disability (NLD).
There is still debate as to exactly how Aspergers Syndrome should be classified. In addition, it is not always an easy, clear cut diagnosis to make. As a result, diagnostic errors continue to be made and this often affects treatment, as well as access to appropriate help and information.
Parents may find themselves going from one doctor to another, becoming more and more confused and frustrated in their attempts to help their child. (See bottom of the page for information about natural remedies for Aspergers Syndrome)
What is Aspergers Syndrome?
Aspergers Syndrome is a neurobiological disorder which is classified as one of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). It is characterized by significant impairment in social interaction, as well as the development of repetitive and restricted fields of interest, activities and interests.
While there are some similarities with Autism, people with Aspergers usually have average to above average IQ, and do not demonstrate clinically significant delays in language or self help skills.
While they may have an extremely good command of language and have a very rich vocabulary, they are unable to use language appropriately in a social context and often speak in a monotone, with little nuance and inflection in their voice.
Children with Aspergers may or may not seek out social interaction, but always have difficulty in interpreting and learning the skills of social and emotional interaction with others, leading to significant impairment in relationships and peer interaction.
Although parents often notice problems at an early age, diagnosis is usually made during preschool age or later. While both boys and girls can have Aspergers, the syndrome is more common in boys.
What are the symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV) lists the following symptoms for diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome
A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
1. Marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
2. Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
3. A lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
4. Lack of social or emotional reciprocity
B. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
1. Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
2. Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
3. Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
4. Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
C. The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
D. There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)
E. There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood
F. Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia
What are the causes of Aspergers Syndrome?
It is not known what causes Aspergers Syndrome, although there appears to be a definite genetic component as it tends to run in families. While there is as yet no clear evidence as to the causes of Aspergers Syndrome, there may be certain ‘triggers’ which may precipitate the condition.
These include environmental factors like pollution, food intolerances (particularly to foods containing wheat, gluten, sugar and dairy products), digestive problems and even childhood vaccinations (particularly the MMRI).
There are also suggestions that Aspergers Syndrome may sometimes be linked to high levels of Candida in the gut. Clearly much more research is needed in this area.
One thing is sure – Asperger’s is NOT caused by bad parenting or problems in the family! It is unfortunate that many parents have been made to feel guilty for a neurological disorder which is not their fault.
Is there a cure for Aspergers Syndrome?
Aspergers Syndrome can currently not be cured and the condition is lifelong. However, with correct treatment and therapy, many people with Asperger’s can go on to lead normal lives and may even excel in certain areas of occupational functioning.
Can Aspergers Syndrome be treated?
Yes, most definitely! However, because Asperger’s is a relatively new diagnosis in the field of developmental psychology and psychiatry, many treatment approaches are still in the developmental stages and lots of work still needs to be done in this area.
One thing has definitely been established – the sooner treatment begins, the better! This applies especially to remedial, educational and therapeutic intervention.
While there is no specific treatment or ‘cure’ for Aspergers Syndrome, there are many interventions which can significantly improve the functioning and quality of life of people and children with Asperger’s.
Social Skills Training
This should be one of the most important components of a treatment program. Children with Aspergers Syndrome can be helped to learn social skills by an experienced psychologist. Body language and nonverbal communication can be taught in much the same way as one would teach a foreign language.
Children with Aspergers can learn to interpret nonverbal expressions of emotion and social interaction. This can assist them with social interaction and peer relationships and prevent the isolation and depression that often occurs as they enter adolescence.
Teenagers can sometimes benefit from group therapy and can be taught how to use the teenage ‘slang’ and language forms of their peer groups.
Because children with Asperger’s Syndrome may differ widely in terms of IQ and ability levels, schools should learn to individualize educational programs for these children.
Some of them may cope well in a mainstream class with additional support, while others may need to receive specialized education. In all cases, teachers should be aware of the special needs of Asperger’s children, who often need a great deal more support than first appears necessary.
Psychotherapeutic approaches which focus on supportive therapy, the teaching of social skills and concrete behavioral techniques are more effective than approaches which concentrate on emotional in depth therapy, which may be too uncomfortable and stressful for the person with Asperger’s.
Children can benefit from play therapy and ‘story’ therapy aimed at raising awareness of nonverbal communication, development and teaching of empathy and learning of social skills.
Although there is no conclusive evidence, there are strong suggestions that changes in diet may significantly reduce the symptoms of some children with Asperger’s Disorder.
Many parents report that their children become much more manageable when certain classes of food are eliminated from the diet. These include dairy products, sugar, gluten, wheat and some artificial colorants and preservatives like MSG and tartrazine.
It is worthwhile consulting a trained nutritionalist to assist with dietary intervention and parents should not simply eliminate important foods from their children’s diets without expert advice.
Psychopharmacological Interventions or Drug Therapy
Many children and adults with Aspergers Disorder do not need any form of medication, while others need to be treated symptomatically While there are no specific ‘Asperger’s’ drugs, psychiatric drugs can be used to treat some of the problems which may manifest or be associated with Asperger’s, such as ADD/HD, depression, mood swings, temper tantrums, irritability, aggression, obsessions and compulsive behaviors and anxiety.
Many of the drugs used to treat the other Pervasive Developmental Disorders like Autism are also used to treat some of the associated symptoms of Asperger’s. These include Ritalin, Adderall, Paxil, Strattera, Prozac, Risperal and others.
Like many psychiatric drugs, these often come with unwanted side effects and the risk of addiction and their benefits should always be weighed against the potential harm they could cause, particularly in the case of children. Remember that you should always consult your doctor before altering or discontinuing any prescription medication.
It is also important to realize that there are effective herbal and homeopathic alternatives to many of the prescription drugs. As with any medication, it is always best to consult your doctor before changing or discontinuing any prescribed medicines.
Herbal and homeopathic remedies can be viable alternatives to the synthetic drugs and may be just as effective, with far fewer risks and side effects.
Depending on the symptoms that need treatment, Native Remedies recommends the following remedies to assist in an overall treatment plan.
Remedies may be used independently or in combination.
Herbal remedy for depression, mood swings, repetitive behaviors, irritability, and aggression
Safe, Effective Help for Depression, OCD and Panic/Anxiety in Children
MindSoothe Jr. is a natural, safe, effective specially formulated herbal remedy that has been successfully used in the treatment of child and teen Depression, Insomnia, OCD, Panic Disorder, and Anxiety. Being natural, with no artificial preservatives, this remedy is safe for children and teens, is non-addictive and has NO SIDE EFFECTS.
Learn more about MindSoothe Jr. now.
Herbal remedy for anxiety (calm and soothe)
Tranquilizing drugs may be very effective in calming autistic children and adults, who can easily become highly distressed and volatile over seemingly small changes in their environment. However, many tranquilizing drugs are also addictive and individuals may build up tolerance, resulting in the need for increasingly higher doses.
PureCalm is a herbal formula which has been especially formulated to calm and soothe children and adults without the risk
Using Herbs to Calm Tension, Anxiety, Panic and Stress
PureCalm is a natural, safe and effective liquid herbal formula that works quickly to eliminate symptoms of tension, anxiety, stress, panic attacks and irritability. PureCalm helps maintain balanced emotions during everyday pressure, stress and common nervous tension.
Learn more about PureCalm now.
Herbal remedies for ADHD, hyperactivity and concentration
Like the benzodiazepines and tranquilizing drugs, the psycho-stimulants come with documented side effects and potential for dependency. Yet many parents find it very difficult to deal with Asperger’s children who also have symptoms of ADHD,hyperactivity and concentration problems.
For the treatment of hyperactivity, restlessness and lack of concentration, Native Remedies has developed two highly effective remedies:
Focus Formula is a 100% herbal remedy which has been especially formulated to treat the symptoms of ADHD in children and adults alike. Focus Formula comes in a tincture and is easily administered as drops in some juice or water.
Native Remedies also offers BrightSpark, a safe and effective homeopathic formula. BrightSpark can be effectively used on its own or it can be combined with Focus Formula for severe or stubborn cases or for children with defiance and anger problems.