The criteria for diagnosing Asperger’s syndrome (AS) in an individual vary depending on where the person lives and what symptoms he or she displays. For example, in the United States, an AS diagnosis requires that the individual has significant difficulty in daily living and routines. Proper diagnosis requires an array of tests conducted by licensed professionals. Most AS diagnoses occur between the ages of 3 and 11. Diagnosis of adolescents and adults presents special challenges, as the presentation of AS changes as individuals age. Some symptoms may improve, but many communication and social difficulties can and will persist.
Although not everyone affected with AS presents the same symptoms, certain broad categories exist. Children with AS often display an intense concentration on certain activities and prefer unchanging routines. They may lack certain social skills that would help them relate to and interact with others, such as recognizing emotional cues. They may also adopt odd facial expressions, or tonally flat speech patterns.
If parents observe these or similar traits in a child, they should make an appointment with the child’s physician. Typically, the doctor will ask the parents how the child gets along with others, what they have noticed about the child’s behavior patterns, and whether teachers or other adults have mentioned any unusual behaviors or interactions. From there, the doctor may recommend visiting specialists who can evaluate the child’s motor, social, speech, and language skills.
The next phase involves formulating and implementing an AS treatment plan. This will require adults in the child’s life–such as parents, other family members, teachers, doctors, specialists, and mental health counselors–to take an active role. Together, these individuals can help the child develop stronger social skills and facilitate easier learning through in- and out-of-school programs and counseling, as well as at-home methods such as holding to daily routines.
About the Author
A licensed Speech and Language Pathologist specializing in early childhood education, Janet Turansky works with clients throughout Fairfield County, Connecticut, and Westchester County, New York. Janet Turansky leverages her knowledge of conditions and disorders such as autism, Asperger’s, apraxia, and others to help her clients overcome obstacles and more easily integrate with their peers.