Saturday, June 16, 2012

Aspergers in Toddlers

Asperger Syndrome (AS), also called Asperger's, is a disorder in the autism spectrum disorder (ASD) range. It is characterized by repetitive and restrictive patterns of interests and behaviors, and difficulties in social interaction. It is not as severe as some of the other ASDs because cognitive and linguistic development does not tend to be impacted. There are several generalized symptoms of the disorder, particularly clumsiness, atypical use of language, limited empathy, and limited or no nonverbal communication skills. The disorder is named after the Austrian pediatrician, Hans Asperger, who first noticed these symptoms in children in his practice in 1944. Today, with the knowledge modern medicine has regarding neurology and symptoms, Aspergers in toddlers may be diagnosed much sooner than in previous decades.
No one knows the exact cause of Asperger's, although there is a suspected genetic basis. Most people diagnosed with the disorder improve as they mature, and although there is no one treatment or cure, people with the syndrome can manage the worst of their symptoms with behavioral therapy. Some people with AS deal with social and communication problems their whole lives.
The symptoms of Aspergers in toddlers are usually present, although the diagnosis is usually not made until the child reaches seven or nine years of age. Early warning signs may allow a diagnosis to be made much sooner, which would benefit a child who may receive therapy to help with the worst of the symptoms. Some kids with Asperger's fail to attain milestones like crawling, waving, other simple gestures, and unassisted standing within the first year. These kids may also fail to make eye contact, show an aversion to affection, and may prefer being alone. Repetitive behaviors may also appear in the first year or two, like rocking.
Other symptoms of Aspergers in toddlers include abnormal non-verbal communication, lack of social skills, advanced language development, poor coordination - clumsiness, reflex abnormalities, delayed concept of joint attention, delayed use of gestures, delayed pointing, preoccupation with certain topics or items, early reading, sensitivity to stimuli, and obsession with complex topics.
Children with an autism spectrum disorder like Aspergers may begin to develop verbal communication or social skills, but then start to lose those skills around age three. The sooner an autistic or Asperger's Syndrome child is diagnosed, the sooner behavioral therapy can begin. Early treatment can sometimes lessen the severity of the disorder and help the child to be more able to get along in life. Speak to your doctor if you feel your child may have Aspergers disorder.
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