Aspergers: Does It Even Exist Anymore
You should know that Aspergers isnt officially recognized as its own syndrome anymore.
The American Psychiatric Associations Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders no longer considers Aspergers syndrome a separate disorder. Since 2013, doctors have been instructed to diagnose Aspergers and autism both as autism spectrum disorders.
Despite this newer classification, many experts believe that children and adults with Aspergers have clear-cut symptoms that set them apart from those with autism. Indeed, the lumping of autism spectrum disorders has caused quite a bit of debate in the medical community.
Getting An Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnosis
The road to an ASD diagnosis can be difficult and time-consuming. In fact, it is often two to three years after the first symptoms of ASD are noticed before an official diagnosis is made. This is due in large part to concerns about labeling or incorrectly diagnosing the child. However, an ASD diagnosis can also be delayed if the doctor doesnt take a parents concerns seriously or if the family isnt referred to health care professionals who specialize in developmental disorders.
If youre worried that your child has ASD, its important to seek out a clinical diagnosis. But dont wait for that diagnosis to get your child into treatment. Early intervention during the preschool years will improve your childs chances for overcoming their developmental delays. So look into treatment options and try not to worry if youre still waiting on a definitive diagnosis. Putting a potential label on your kids problem is far less important than treating the symptoms.
Family Support For Autistic People
The family members of autistic individuals are also likely to need some support. Having an autistic child can have a significant effect on parents, who may react to the diagnosis in a variety of ways, including relief, shock, grief, anger and guilt.
Feelings of stress, confusion and anxiety are also common in parents who are caring for an autistic child. It can be valuable for parents to consider joining a support group or participating in counselling.
For more information visit the Better Health Channel page Autism spectrum disorder tips for parents.
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Do These Differences Impact Symptoms
Most likely the result of these connections manifest into the signs and the symptoms that we see. However, Dr. Anderson cautions that it is hard to know exactly what brain connection correlates to what sign. Ultimately, theres still an awful lot that we need to know, he says. Just looking at that brain imaging, we arent really able to explain all of the behaviors that we see.
What Is Aspergers Syndrome
Aspergers syndrome was first described by the Viennese pediatrician Hans Asperger in the 1940s. He noticed that some children had behaviors similar to autism, but with average intelligence levels and language development.
When the DSM-4 added Aspergers syndrome, it described the condition as the same as autism with a key exception: people with Aspergers didnt have delays in the areas of communication and language.
The for Aspergers disorder states that the person will have:
- closer to neurotypical language development
- average intelligence
- noticeable differences in social interaction
- repetitive behaviors
- strong, focused approach to certain interests or activities
Aspergers syndrome tends to be seen as a form of high-functioning autism. High-functioning autism typically means that a persons language skills and development are considered normal according to neurotypical standards.
When the DSM-5 was published in 2013, Aspergers syndrome was folded into autism spectrum disorder.
The specific behavior and communication patterns associated with high-functioning autism or Aspergers tend to be classified as requiring support. This means people with an Aspergers diagnosis might not need as much support in day-to-day life as other autistic people.
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Autism Is Not An Illness
Being autistic does not mean you have an illness or disease. It means your brain works in a different way from other people.
It’s something you’re born with or first appears when you’re very young.
If you’re autistic, you’re autistic your whole life.
Autism is not a medical condition with treatments or a “cure”. But some people need support to help them with certain things.
What Are The Three Types Of Autism Spectrum Disorders
Just like there is more than one type of anxiety disorder, diabetes, or developmental disorder, there is more than one type of autism. In anxiety, for example, there are five completely separate types, each with their own symptoms, some unique to the other types and some types sharing similar symptoms on a spectrum. Autism Spectrum Disorder is considered the broad term for autism, but there are actually three separate sub-types that fit within the ASD category.
When you think about a spectrum, think of seeing different shades of blue all together in one band. All of the shades are technically blue, but they range from lightest to darkest. You can also think of a rating scale with two extremes or opposite points. The term autism spectrum disorder should be viewed similarly there is a spectrum of symptoms that someone with autism can exhibit, ranging from mild to severe.
You may be one of the millions of people around the world affected by autism. Or you might know someone personally affected by the disorder or have realized its impact on people and the world. Either way, it is encouraged that you educate yourself on what autism is and what the three types of autism spectrum disorders are. In doing so, you will have a better understanding about the disorder, which can help you to interact and communicate more effectively with individuals who are on the spectrum and to put yourself in their shoes.
The three types of ASD that will be discussed are:
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What Are The Signs Of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Signs of ASD range from mild to severely disabling, and every person is different. The following signs are considered to be red flags that indicate your young child may be at risk for autism. If your child shows any of the following signs, please get in touch with your childs healthcare provider to discuss a referral for an autism evaluation.
The signs include the following:
- Your child doesnt respond to their name being called at all or responds inconsistently.
- Your child doesnt smile widely or make warm, joyful expressions by the age of 6 months.
- Your child doesnt engage in smiling, making sounds and making faces with you or other people by the age of 9 months.
- Your child doesnt babble by 12 months.
- No back-and-forth gestures such as showing, pointing, reaching or waving by 12 months.
- No words by 16 months.
- No meaningful, two-word phrases by 24 months.
- Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age.
Intervention For Autism And Aspergers
Interventions and treatments for Autism/Aspergers Syndrome should include various approaches and be tailored to the individuals needs.
It is important to involve professionals, as well as parents and teachers.
Early intervention addresses core symptoms of AS/ASD and tackles poor communication skills and restricted and repetitive behaviors.
The following methods are used in the interventions for AS/ASD:
- Social skills training
- Ability to play with language
- Tendency to follow rules
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Level 2 Asd: Requiring Substantial Support
Level 2 ASD is the middle-range of autism in terms of severity of symptoms and needs for supports.
People who qualify as having Level 2 ASD need more support than people with Level 1 ASD. They have more difficulty with social skills. Their challenges in social situations may be more noticeable to other people around them as compared to those with Level 1 ASD.
People with Level 2 ASD may or may not communicate verbally. If they do, their conversations may be very short or only on specific topics or they may need extensive support in order to participate in social activities.
The nonverbal behavior of people with Level 2 ASD may be more atypical from the majority of their peers. They may not look at someone who is talking to them. They may not make much eye contact. They may not express emotions through tone of voice or through facial expressions in the same way that most other people do.
People with Level 2 ASD struggle more than those with Level 1 ASD regarding their restrictive or repetitive behaviors. They may have routines or habits that they feel they must do and, if these get interrupted, they become very uncomfortable or upset.
Managing Aspergers And Asd
If youre encountering any challenges related to an autism or Aspergers diagnosis, there are ways to manage.
For parents of an autistic child, many approaches including social or behavioral therapy can be helpful during early childhood and beyond.
If youre an Aspie, resources also exist to help you feel more supported and connected. The Asperger/Autism Spectrum Education Network and the Autistic Self Advocacy Network are a couple of great resources to get started.
that this change would make it harder to connect with services and support that fit their needs.
Some of these concerns include that a person with Aspergers:
- might not meet the full diagnostic criteria for ASD
- might not receive all the support they need because theyre compared to people who need much higher levels of support or care
- may be placed in a learning program that doesnt meet their needs
Still, other Aspies have embraced being on the autism spectrum as part of their identity.
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Social And Communication Skills
Impairments in social skills present many challenges for autistic individuals. Deficits in social skills may lead to problems with friendships, romantic relationships, daily living, and vocational success. One study that examined the outcomes of autistic adults found that, compared to the general population, those with ASD were less likely to be married, but it is unclear whether this outcome was due to deficits in social skills or intellectual impairment, or some other reason.
Prior to 2013, deficits in social function and communication were considered two separate symptoms of autism. The current criteria for autism diagnosis require individuals to have deficits in three social skills: social-emotional reciprocity, nonverbal communication, and developing and sustaining relationships.
Some of the symptoms related to social reciprocity include:
- Lack of mutual sharing of interests: many autistic children prefer not to play or interact with others.
- Lack of awareness or understanding of other people’s thoughts or feelings: a child may get too close to peers without noticing that this makes them uncomfortable.
- Atypical behaviors for attention: a child may push a peer to gain attention before starting a conversation.
Symptoms related to relationships includes the following:
- Defects in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships.
- Difficulties adjusting behavior to fit social contexts.
Autistic people may experience difficulties with verbal communication:
Getting The Right Environment
Environment is important to quality of life for autistic people. There are ways you can adapt and improve your environment to make it as comfortable and supportive as possible for you or your child.
The social model of disability is a way of looking at the world that treats the difficulties people with disabilities have as being caused by barriers in society, rather than just the disabilities themselves. These barriers can be physical for example, buildings not having accessible toilets. Barriers can also be caused by peoples attitudes for example, many people will assume someone is lying because they dont make eye contact while talking.
The social model of disability can be a helpful way of considering the difficulties someone faces, and how to adapt their environment so it works for them.
Common changes to an environment that can help autistic people include:
- sensory changes for example, being given a quiet space to work, being able to use sensory toys like fidget spinners, or being allowed to make noises while working
- communication changes for example, using email or apps to communicate, using very clear language, allowing additional time to ask questions, or using visual communication such as photos or pictures as well as written words
- routine keeping to a regular routine and giving warning of any changes as far in advance as possible
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Behavior And Communication Approaches
Some specific approaches that autistic people may find helpful include:
Applied behavior analysis
This is a form of support for autistic children that encourages helpful behaviors while discouraging unhelpful ones. There are many types, such as :
- Positive behavior and support: This aims to identify the reason for a childs particular challenging behavior and looks for ways to make a more appropriate behavior appealing to the child.
- Pivotal response training: This aims to increase a childs motivation to learn or communicate.
- Early intensive behavioral intervention: This aims to help very young autistic children develop adaptive behaviors.
- Discrete trial teaching: This aims to teach certain skills and behaviors in a controlled, step-by-step manner using positive feedback for encouragement.
Autistic people can have trouble communicating, and some cannot communicate verbally. Assistive technology can help a person interact with others.One example is a communication board with pictures or words on it that an autistic person can point to. Certain software on electronic devices, such as tablets, can help autistic people express themselves.
This can help an autistic person live as independently as possible. It may provide guidance about how to:
- get dressed
Diagnosis Of Autism In Adults
It is not unusual for autistic people to have reached adulthood without a diagnosis.
Sometimes people will discover some information about autism that makes them think That sounds like me. They may then choose to talk to a health professional for a diagnosis, or they may not.
You may choose to seek a diagnosis for suspected autism if:
- you have been diagnosed with a mental health condition and/or intellectual disability during childhood or adolescence, but think that you may have autism
- you have struggled with feeling socially isolated and different
- your child or another family member has been diagnosed with autism and some of the characteristics of autism sound familiar to you.
If you wish to seek an assessment for autism, you can:
- talk to your GP who may refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism
- talk to a psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism .
A psychologist or psychiatrist with experience in the assessment and diagnosis of autism will ask you about your childhood, and experiences at school and as an adult. They may also do some psychological or psychiatric testing. A speech therapist may also be consulted to assess your social communication skills. All of this information will be used to help make a diagnosis.
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What Are The 5 Types Of Autism
Autism refers to a wide range of neurodevelopmental disorders. If your child is living with autism, it is important for you to understand the various types of autism and the symptoms presented by each.
Understanding the unique challenges presented by each type of autism will guide you in helping your child cope with the disorder. There are five major types of autism which include Aspergers syndrome, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, Kanners syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified.
Level 1 Asd: Requiring Support
Level 1 ASD is the least severe. This could be viewed as mild autism.
People who qualify as having Level 1 ASD may struggle in social situations and have some concerns with restrictive or repetitive behaviors but they only require minimal support to help them function in their day to day activities.
People with Level 1 ASD are likely able to communicate verbally. They may be able to have some relationships. However, they may struggle maintaining a conversation and making and keeping friends may not come easily or naturally to them.
People with Level 1 ASD may prefer to stick to established routines and feel uncomfortable with changes or unexpected events. They may want to do certain things in their own way.
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Diagnosis Of Autism In Children
Autism in children is diagnosed through observation by a multidisciplinary team of the following health professionals:
- psychologist or psychiatrist
- speech pathologist.
Some children will show signs of autism by the age of two and will be diagnosed then. Other may be diagnosed when they are older. The earlier autism can be diagnosed the sooner therapy can begin. Early intervention has been shown to improve outcomes for autistic children.
Social Behavior And Social Understanding
Basic social interaction can be difficult for children with autism spectrum disorders. Symptoms may include:
- Unusual or inappropriate body language, gestures, and facial expressions .
- Lack of interest in other people or in sharing interests or achievements .
- Unlikely to approach others or to pursue social interaction comes across as aloof and detached prefers to be alone.
- Difficulty understanding other peoples feelings, reactions, and nonverbal cues.
- Resistance to being touched.
- Difficulty or failure to make friends with children the same age.
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Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder
In order to determine whether your child has autism spectrum disorder or another developmental condition, clinicians look carefully at the way your child interacts with others, communicates, and behaves. Diagnosis is based on the patterns of behavior that are revealed.
If you are concerned that your child has autism spectrum disorder and developmental screening confirms the risk, ask your family doctor or pediatrician to refer you immediately to an autism specialist or team of specialists for a comprehensive evaluation. Since the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder is complicated, it is essential that you meet with experts who have training and experience in this highly specialized area.
The team of specialists involved in diagnosing your child may include:
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