A developmental disorder related to autism and characterized by awkwardness in social interaction, pedantry in speech, and preoccupation with very narrow interests.
What causes Asperger’s syndrome?
If one accepts the conclusion that Asperger’s syndrome is one of the autistic disorders, then the causes of Asperger’s syndrome would be expected to be the same as the causes of autism. The precise causes of autistic disorders have not been identified, although an inherited (genetic) component is believed to be involved. Supporting this idea is the fact that Asperger’s syndrome has been observed to run in families. In some cases, autistic disorders may be related to toxic exposures, teratogens, problems with pregnancy or birth, and prenatal infections. These environmental influences may act together to modify or potentially increase the severity of the underlying genetic defect.
Some authors have suggested a causal role for vaccine exposure (particularly measles vaccine and thimerosal, a mercury preservative used in some vaccines) in autism. However, the overwhelming majority of epidemiologic evidence shows no evidence for an association between immunizations and autism, and experts have discredited this theory.
How common is Asperger’s syndrome?
Asperger’s syndrome is five times more common in boys than in girls. In recent years, the number of autism spectrum disorders has increased dramatically in the U.S. The reason for the increase is not fully clear, but it likely due to both improvements and modifications in the diagnostic process that result in an increase in the number of children being identified, as well as some degree of true increase in the incidence of the disorders themselves. The most recent studies show that one out of every 110 children in the U.S. has an autism spectrum disorder.
Asperger’s syndrome has been estimated to affect two and a half out of every 1000 children, based upon the total number of children with autistic disorders.
Signs and Symptoms of Asperger Syndrome
Asperger Syndrome (AS) is a pervasive developmental disorder that is widely described as a mild form of autism. People with AS tend to have many of the social and sensory issues of those with more severe forms of autistic disorder but have average to above average IQs and vocabularies. They often have trouble picking up on subtle forms of communication like body language, humor, and sarcasm. Find below some common signs of Asperger Syndrome:
- difficulty making friends of the same age, children with AS may feel more comfortable with adults or much younger children
- engages in one-sided, long-winded conversations, without noticing if the listener is still listening or trying to change the subject
- displays unusual nonverbal communication, such as lack of eye contact, few facial expressions, or awkward body postures and gestures
- does not empathize with or seems insensitive to others’ feelings and has a hard time “reading” other people or may have difficulty understanding humor
- doesn’t understand the give-and-take of conversation or engage in “small talk”
- seems egocentric or self-absorbed
- may speak in a voice that is monotone, rigid, jerky or unusually fast
- may be extremely literal or have difficulty understanding the nuances of language, despite having a good vocabulary
While all children with AS are different, their unusual social skills and obsessive interests tend to set them apart from their peers. They may have in common some or all of the following symptoms:
- may have an intense obsession with one or two specific, narrow subjects
- may strongly prefer repetitive routines or rituals and becomes upset at any small changes
- may memorize information and facts easily, especially information related to a topic of interest
- may have clumsy, uncoordinated movements, an odd posture or a rigid gait
- may perform repetitive movements, such as hand or finger flapping
- may engage in violent outbursts, self-injurious behaviors, tantrums or meltdowns
- may be hypersensitive to sensory stimulation such as light, sound, and texture
- may “day dream” or “zone out” when overstimulated