Asperger’s In Children: Does My Child Have The Symptoms?
Children with Asperger disorder face special challenges in life, so seeking a diagnosis on the autism spectrum is crucial if you suspect your child has the condition. If you're wrong, you can still find out how to help your child. But, if your child does have Asperger's Syndrome, finding out as early as possible can be a relief and the beginning of a better life for your child. Once you know the cause of their suffering, you can get them help to aid in their development and daily living. When you are struggling with the question of "does my child have Asperger's," you need to move from worry to action. The first step in the process is to learn about how Asperger's in children shows up.
At What Age Do Symptoms Appear?
Most children that receive a diagnosis of Asperger's get the news when are between 5 and 9 years old. However, many children as diagnosed as young as 3 years old. What's more, the symptoms can show up much earlier, even as young as 12 months old.
Social Symptoms of Asperger's in Children
Children with Asperger's typically have problems interacting with children their own age. Instead, they prefer to spend time talking with adults or children who are much younger than they are. They tend to have few or no friends their age. They don't interact with others as much as most children, and when they do, their interactions are often inappropriate to the situation. They may not have the ability to empathize with others. It isn't that they are selfish, but only that they don't have the social skill of being able to put themselves in someone else's shoes.
One of the reasons it's so hard for Aspergers children to have a satisfying social life is that several aspects of communication are difficult for them. They tend to talk more about themselves than others. They also tend to have trouble interpreting what others say in words or communicate through body language.
When you speak with your Aspergers child, notice if the conversation has the usual give-and-take of healthy communication. Children who have Asperger's syndrome often speak in long monologues. Instead of waiting for the other person to add to the conversation or talk about something else, they forge ahead, not seeming to notice whether the other person is even listening.
They might also have trouble communicating nonverbally. Making eye contact might be out of their comfort zone. They may speak in a monotone voice. These children may not change their facial expressions much, and may gesture awkwardly.
Is Intelligence a Factor?
A child with Asperger's doesn't necessarily have any type of intellectual deficits. In fact, most of them have average to above average intelligence. They may have difficulty with reading, writing or math, but they may also excel in these subjects. If they do, their talents may be limited to a narrow subject within the larger main subject. These children often have great skills in memorizing lists or making calculations quickly - but only if it is in a subject that interests them. It's extremely common for a child with Asperger syndrome to have superior grammar skills and extensive vocabularies, even at an early age.
Although these children can be quite bright, there may be some things they simply don't have the capacity to understand. For example, their grammar and vocabulary might be excellent, but they may not be able to understand nonliteral uses of language.
Humor may be the best medicine for many ailments, but children with Asperger's typically don't understand humor well. However, with the right professional help, they can learn and even enjoy humor.
Emotions can be hard for someone with Asperger's to control. They feel comforted by routines and rituals, but when they can't follow their set routine, they can become upset easily. They may suffer from clinical depression. They may injure themselves intentionally, throw tantrums, or have meltdowns at the slightest change in routine. When they face intense frustration, anger or fear, they may engage in a brief outburst of violence.
In addition to the social and emotional challenges of Asperger's in children, some physical symptoms and behaviors are often a part of the syndrome. Their movements can be uncoordinated, clumsy or awkward. They may engage in repetitive movements like hand flapping. Their often sensitivity to lights, sounds, textures and other sensory stimuli is often extreme and can make them feel overwhelmed at times.
Interests and Obsessions
One of the most fascinating aspects of Asperger's syndrome in children is their intense interests. The subject of their interest is usually very narrowly-defined. They may become experts on these subjects and memorize lists and facts related to them. The topics they choose may be narrow, but they prefer complex interests, such as patterns or music.
Their interests can be so strong as to be considered true obsessions. They might spend an incredible amount of time and effort learning more about the subject. And, when they have trouble knowing what to say about any other subject, they are usually happy to talk with someone who shares their interests.
Lack of "Common Sense"
When people point out that someone else has a lack of common sense, they're usually referring to a lack of judgment in the practical aspects of life. Children with Asperger's may have trouble knowing what to do in a situation most children can navigate easily. Asperger's children may not seem very sensible when it comes to tasks that most people do easily, without much thought or preparation.
Does Your Child Seem Odd to You or Others?
Asperger's children often seem odd to others. Perhaps you've noticed this quirkiness or worry when others mention it. Maybe you feel your child is facing a challenge you can't identify or understand. If so, it may be a relief to you and your child if you find out they don't have Asperger's. Or, you might find out they have a different problem you never thought of.
Even if you don't recognize any of the preceding symptoms in your child or don't feel they are pronounced enough to matter, there's nothing wrong with watching for symptoms of Asperger's. The symptoms might not be noticeable to you yet, or they might not even have become a problem for your child at this point.
Getting Help for Your Aspergers Child
Your child's life probably seems extremely difficult if they are showing signs of Asperger's but not receiving treatment and appropriate support. As a person with Asperger's, your child's life may always be challenging. Yet, the good news is the seeking help for them can get them started on a new path towards better development, higher functioning, and more pleasant moods.
Start by finding a professional who can assess your child for a possible diagnosis. Asperger's is no longer a valid diagnosis in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Instead, Asperger's is considered a part of the Autism Spectrum Disorders. However, many doctors and therapists still recognize Asperger's as a special subset in the less severe part of the spectrum.
The professional will take a detailed history of the child's birth, infancy and childhood. They will ask about physical, emotional and social development issues. They will likely give one or more tests, which usually include an intelligence test.
After diagnosis, there is a wide range of treatments and therapies available to help your child feel better, build social skills and better control their emotions. With a counselor's assistance, they can begin to engage with the world on a deeper level and learn to function to their highest capacity.
Getting Parent's Therapy for Yourself
Dealing with the symptoms of Asperger's can be almost as challenging for the parent as it is for the child. Any parent who takes their responsibility to provide their child with everything possible to help them succeed can feel frustration, confusion and even fear for the future. For a parent with an Asperger's child, that feeling of overwhelming responsibility can be even more intense.
Beyond dealing with your child's symptoms, you need to learn the best ways to interact with them and teach them in ways only parents can. You need a support system, but more than that, you need information on the syndrome and how parents can help their children. You need to have someone who can listen to your problems in dealing with your child and help you understand yourself better as a parent.
Online therapy for Aspergers parents is one of the most convenient ways to access that support and guidance. You can do it at a time and place that works best for you. BetterHelp offers services to help you cope with your child's disorder and manage your own reactions to it more beneficially. Licensed counselors are available to talk with you about this and any other issues that complicate your life. Help is just a few clicks away.