Asperger’s syndrome is a family disorder of autism, a pervasive developmental disorder affecting between 350,000 and 600,000 people worldwide and manifesting in childhood.
Asperger’s syndrome has a neuro-biochemical origin associated with a genetic problem probably involving several genes, which is distinguished by the fact that the intelligence of the affected person remains intact although neurological disorders affect the activity of the brain.
People with this syndrome have difficulty socializing and interacting with other people. It is a chronic handicap that we do not know how to cure.
Description of Asperger’s Syndrome
Asperger’s syndrome is a neurological autism spectrum disorder that affects the brain and is part of pervasive developmental disorders. Boys are more exposed than girls (about 4-5 times more). The causes of the disease are unexplained, although the genetic factor (heredity) is often put forward.
The disorders associated with Asperger’s syndrome result from poor transmission between the reception and processing of information in the brain. This abnormality leads to a different perception of life and the world around him by the patient and abnormalities in the interactions between people.
Asperger Syndrome Symptoms
Before the age of 3, Asperger’s syndrome is underdiagnosed. However, signs are often already present, and the child communicates little with his parents through gestures, babbling, smiles, and laughter.
From the age of 3 years, the symptoms become more visible. Children seek little to interact with people around them but concentrate or focus their attention on specific subjects and objects.
Non-verbal language is difficult to decode for them. They therefore often react in a way that seems inappropriate because they do not understand the implicit codes.
Asperger’s syndrome is therefore manifested by difficulties in communicating, establishing social relationships, enduring noise, or a very stimulating environment. We often observe repetitive movements in children, difficulties in coordinating movements, and in situating themselves in time and space.
Affected people have difficulty understanding the abstract and emotions. They are able to experience feelings such as love but in different ways.
All children with Asperger’s syndrome do not necessarily present all the symptoms mentioned. The severity of the disorders also varies from child to child.
Children with Asperger’s syndrome are often intelligent, perfectionist, and demanding children who pay particular attention to details that others may miss.
They have specific centers of interest which are sometimes out of the ordinary for children of their age, for example, the conquest of space or trains. They are endowed with a remarkable memory and logic is the foundation of their reasoning. They also have great lucidity and good analytical skills.
In adults, Asperger’s syndrome continues to present the same symptoms with three axes (autistic triad) as in children:
- Impaired communication, ie difficulty in verbal and non-verbal communication. A person with this symptom has trouble decoding the meaning of a facial expression, the tone of voice, humor, double meanings, and the meaning of gestures… They have to learn it and not integrate it automatically as other people do. She can therefore seem distant, and cold.
- A qualitative alteration of reciprocal social interactions, that is to say, a difficulty in creating links with others, in having friends, and difficulties in friendly and romantic emotional exchanges.
- Restricted interests and repetitive and stereotyped behaviors are a priori a way of containing inner anxiety.
Diagnostic Asperger’s syndrome
Asperger’s syndrome is difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can direct the doctor towards another pathology, in particular a mental pathology such as schizophrenia. It is sometimes after several years, after regular monitoring of his behavior and his nature, that the diagnosis is confirmed.
Treatments for Asperger’s Syndrome
There is no cure for Asperger’s Syndrome.
However, research is beginning to yield interesting results with the use of a diuretic, bumetamide, which when used in children leads to a reduction in the severity of autistic disorders for three-quarters of children.
It is important that those around the child, especially his family, understand the thinking mechanisms associated with the disease in order to adapt their behavior.
It is necessary to protect the child from noise, limit his social interactions and not overwhelm him with information, without plunging him into isolation.
These measures aim to reduce his anxiety so that he feels at ease.
The action to be taken for children with Asperger’s Syndrome is to learn to manage their skills in order to adapt to the world and the people around them.
This is put in place by teaching them to compensate for the difficulty of decoding behavior and communication by learning to enable them to behave as much as possible like the others, or at least in a sufficiently adapted way.
This learning prevents them from developing stress, anxiety, depression, or violence toward themselves or the outside world.
Behavioral therapies have thus demonstrated an effect on the ability to control outbursts of anger.
Computer programs helping children with Asperger’s to learn face recognition have also shown effectiveness.
Behavioral therapies can also help the child learn to adapt to unusual situations in which he will not spontaneously know how he is supposed to behave.
Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (ICIP) programs are a very frequent resource for parents who have a child with Asperger’s Syndrome. These are the ABA, PECS, Integration, Teach, Greenspan, or social scenarios methods.
Schooling must be done alongside neurotypical children (who do not suffer from developmental disorders so that they gain self-confidence and learn to adapt to the codes that govern society.
The child can benefit from multidisciplinary follow-up from a doctor, a speech therapist, a psychometrician, and a psychologist.
Complementary Approaches to Asperger’s Syndrome
Some complementary approaches help children who have it grow as normally as possible.
Dietary Supplements for Asperger’s Syndrome
Although not completely proven, certain dietary supplements are sometimes used to help people with autistic disorders, including Asperger’s.
- chelators intended to eliminate heavy metals,
- magnesium and vitamin B6,
- vitamin C,
- melatonin to regulate sleep.
Alternative Therapies for Asperger’s Syndrome
Other alternative therapies can be considered, more to improve the comfort of the affected child than to treat him. From this perspective, osteopathy (the craniosacral approach in particular) and massages are very interesting.