Asperger's syndrome is one of the pervasive developmental disorders resulting in social and behavioral problems. Autism is another condition within this category. Asperger syndrome is viewed by some scientists as a distinct disease; others see it as a less severe type of autism. Children with Asperger's syndrome usually have normal intelligence and do not have the language problems typical of autism.
Unfortunately, there is no treatment to cure Asperger syndrome. Treatments aim to control symptoms and improve social skills. Patients often learn to function independently as adults. However, they usually continue to experience problems with social interaction. 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:
Drugs to control seizures
Serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)—such as citalopram (eg, Celexa), sertraline (eg, Zoloft), fluoxetine (eg, Prozac), paroxetine (eg, Paxil CR)
Neuroleptics—such as risperidone (eg, Risperdal)
Behavior modification therapy and training can help children develop social skills. Learning how to make and keep friends is difficult for these children. As they grow up, many find the lack of friends troubling.
Caring for a child with Asperger syndrome can be very stressful. Counselors help parents learn how to manage the child's behavior. Suggestions include:
Give warnings that an activity is about to end and provide ways to "save" the task for later. For instance, a favorite television show may be recorded for later viewing.
Try to incorporate some flexibility into the day.
Set limits on the amount of time the child can spend on a single, obsessive activity.
Keep directions simple.
Use precise words.
Limit choices to two or three things.
Avoid using figures of speech.
Do not assume a child with this disorder understands what has been said simply because he can repeat it back to you.
Start explaining at an early age what is appropriate behavior for public and private places.
Do not make idle threats or promises.
Give praise for accomplishments, especially social skills.
Children with Asperger syndrome usually have a normal IQ. but have special educational needs. They often can attend regular schools. Teachers should be informed of the child's needs. Children with Asperger's syndrome may be teased or bullied because they seem different.
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