Asperger’s Syndrome Therapy in Ridgewood, NJ
What Is Asperger’s Syndrome?
The term Asperger’s syndrome was first created by Hans Asperger, who in 1944 described the condition as autistic psychopathy. Sometimes nicknamed little professor syndrome, Asperger’s is an outdated diagnosis for a subtype of autism disorder commonly known as high-functioning autism. The diagnosis was made when patients showed extreme difficulty navigating social situations, and who were also proficient in certain intellectual disciplines or topics.
In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association concluded that there was no reason that Asperger’s syndrome and autistic disorder should be separate diagnoses. Patients who would have been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome prior to 2013 are now diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Asperger’s Syndrome Traits
Considering the diversity in how neurodevelopmental conditions present themselves, it is more accurate to describe Asperger’s symptoms as Asperger’s traits or characteristics.
Common Asperger's and autism spectrum disorder traits may include:
- A need for consistency, routine, or order; disruptions in routine may cause extreme distress
- Difficulties understanding and expressing speaking and non-speaking communication
- Difficulties understanding and expressing typical social interaction behaviors, such as using eye contact
- Special interests (deep, passionate interests in specific subjects)
- Atypical, often repetitive, and sensory-seeking movement; stimming--self-stimulatory repetitive behavior--may be used to self-soothe, focus, or express distress or excitement
- Trouble grasping social and/or emotional issues like sarcasm, taboo topics, and intellectual empathy
- Unusual (extremely high or low) emotional empathy
- A high IQ and advanced language skills
Asperger’s was occasionally misdiagnosed as ADHD due to similarities between the two disabilities, such as repetitive body movements, difficulty staying organized, and intense interest in specific topics.
Treatment for Asperger’s Syndrome
As Asperger's syndrome is an outdated term for high-functioning autism, the treatments for both Asperger's and autism are the same. Specific therapy options have been shown to help autistic individuals interact with the world and improve their social skills. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has proven very helpful in teaching autistic people how to cope with social stressors . CBT also teaches social interaction rules and tips, which can be useful to almost anyone.
A psychiatric healthcare provider may also be able to secure accommodations for an autistic person to help them individuals succeed in a school or work environment. Accommodations may include a 504 plan or IEP for school, or being provided with a quiet, solitary environment at work. Many autistic people develop anxiety and depression from the stress of navigating society, so developing coping and self-care mechanisms earlier in life can help offset this. Other treatments for this anxiety and depression may include talk therapy and medications like anxiolytics and antidepressants.
Autistic children have trouble emulating social skills from their peers, so they may need extra help learning these skills. Tips that parents, caretakers, and friends might use to help autistic people of any age improve their social skills include:
- Providing examples of common colloquial phrases or figures of speech if they ask for help
- Trying to provide them with specific instructions, and giving them praise when they do well
- Understanding their need to stim or disengage from a social situation
- Respecting their need to adhere to schedules
- Encouraging them to ask questions if they are confused about expressions or directions
“What is autism” can be a tough question for some to answer, including those who are autistic. To learn more about autism spectrum disorder and treatment options available, call (201) 806-6099 or contact Dr. M.T. Shahab online.
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