Diseases of civilization are widespread, global diseases, the development of which was facilitated by the progress of modern civilization. Such diseases include autism spectrum disorders such as Asperger Syndrome.
It is frightening that these disorders are observed primarily among children. In addition, it is estimated that 30-50% of adults with Asperger Syndrome have not been diagnosed, and these people often receive a different psychiatric diagnosis.
Asperger Syndrome - Diagnosis as an Actual Problem
For many years Asperger Syndrome causes many difficulties in diagnosis. The criteria for its diagnosis are subject to frequent changes, and some experts believe that they are still too outdated.
Asperger Syndrome belongs to a group of disorders from the autism spectrum and has neurobiological basis of unknown, complex etiology. In the diagnosis of this disease, differentiation is necessary, in particular, with schizophrenia, schizotypic and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders.
Individuals with Asperger Syndrome in childhood often - erroneously - receive a diagnosis of ADHD, as they express difficulty with concentration and increased activity.
According to experts, during the diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome in children and adults necessary:
- conduct a psychiatric and psychological assessment,
- to conduct specialized consultations (especially neurological, speech therapy, phonetic and genetic-metabolic),
- perform auditory, visual, genetic, metabolic, neuroimaging tests of the brain and EEG,
- Analyze medical history, family, and development.
Asperger's Syndrome - diagnosis according to the classification of ICD-10
Asperger syndrome is diagnosed according to the guidelines provided by the ICD-10 classification developed by the World Health Organization, i.e. the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems.
He was assigned the designation F84.5, which indicates his belonging to the group of mental disorders and behavioral disorders.
Asperger Syndrome considered a complex developmental disorder, i.e. characterized by qualitative anomalies in social and communicative interactions, as well as limited, stereotypical, repetitive interests and activities.
- There are no particular delays in the development of speech and cognitive functions (the repetition of individual words takes place before the age of 2 years, and related sentences appear before the age of 3 years),
- is available opportunity to help yourself, the presence of practical skills and adaptive behavior is noted, interest in the environment for up to 3 years is at a level corresponding to intellectual development, the developmental phases of the musculoskeletal system are slightly delayed,
- there are qualitative violations in the field of mutual social interactions,
- deep and individual interests, stereotyped patterns of behavior appear.
Asperger Syndrome - Christopher Gillberg Criteria
Christopher Gillberg is a professor of psychiatry who has been dealing with Asperger Syndrome for many years. Draws attention to the following criteria for the diagnosis of children:
- social disability (extreme egocentrism)
- features of speech and language, disturbances in non-verbal communication
- narrow interests, repeated daily activities
- clumsiness of movements
Asperger Syndrome - Important Symptoms
The characteristic features that are necessary to diagnose Asperger syndrome in adults and children include:
- lack of determination
- naivety, wrong, one-sided behavior,
- low friendship building ability,
- speech with repetition and prosody
- poor nonverbal communication
- intense focus on certain subjects,
- uneven asymmetric posture,
- the wrong course of language development,
- the tendency to repeat statements heard earlier, i.e. echolalia
- obsessive thoughts about collecting things, organizing, repeating and obsessing activities related to ordering and symmetry,
- unexpected questions and answers,
- problems with understanding and applying metaphors.
The manifestation of symptoms changes throughout life. Due to the increase in social needs, symptoms become more pronounced in adolescence and adulthood.
Causes of Asperger Syndrome
The causes of Asperger Syndrome are similar to those of autism. The main factor provoking the disorder is biological and genetic predispositions, as well as the effect of toxic substances on the fetus in the first months of pregnancy. One of the possible causes of the disorder is the autoimmune reaction of the mother’s body, which causes brain damage in the unborn baby.
The negative effects of various preventive vaccinations and vaccinations on the child’s immune system are also among the risk factors for Asperger. Another cause of the disease, which so far has not found reliable scientific confirmation, is the theory of hormonal failure in a baby (high levels of testosterone and cortisol). In addition, the possible effect of prematurity of the fetus with Asperger syndrome and autistic disorders is being studied.
Risk factors include intrauterine and postnatal viral infections, i.e. cytomegalovirus infection, rubella, herpes, and toxoplasmosis. The negative impact of environmental factors after the birth of a child can also be the cause of the disease syndrome.
Signs of Asperger Syndrome
Signs of Asperger's syndrome cannot be identified in appearance, since pathology is a hidden disorder that characterizes a number of disorders. There is a triad of signs of illness: these are disorders manifested in social communications, in interaction with others and in the imagination. In this case, most often the syndrome occurs in the male.
Symptoms become noticeable from 2-3 years and can vary from pronounced, that is, severe, to moderate. People with this disorder are characterized by anxiety during communication, severe anxiety, confusion. Patients have pedantry and perfectionism, observing a certain order in everything. There are sensory disturbances, unnatural speech and an obsessed hobby for a hobby or any occupation.
Consider the main signs of Asperger syndrome:
- Problems finding friends and difficulty communicating.
- Poor understanding of social stimuli and emotions, feelings of other people.
- Peculiar, inappropriate emotions and behavior.
- The same type of thinking and preoccupation with their own world.
- Obsessed desire to complete the work that has been started.
- Psychological problems with any changes in the schedule or mode.
- Repeated repetition of words or actions, the same type of thinking.
- Limited language skills, not sharing interests with others.
- Emotional stiffness, with the exception of anger or frustration.
- Good mechanical memory, love of reading, no understanding of information.
- Poor eye contact and coordination, clumsiness of movements.
- Concentration on any little things.
- Difficulties in perceiving criticism from others.
- Trouble sleeping.
Asperger Syndrome in Adults
Asperger's syndrome in adults is quite difficult to diagnose, since adults more adequately assess their strengths and weaknesses. But the disorder is a condition that lasts a lifetime, that is, it cannot be "sick" in adulthood. The features of the syndrome in adults, in contrast to children, are that the disorder is stabilized, and with the right approach to treatment, improvements are noticeable.
This is due to the fact that adults are able to independently develop social skills, including elements of non-verbal communication. Therefore, many people with Asperger syndrome lead a full life, get married, work, have children. Some characteristic features of the disease increase the chances of a successful career and study (focus on details and details, special attention to certain topics). Many adults with this ailment show a strong interest in technology, so they prefer engineering specialties. Many prominent personalities who have proven themselves in different professions had Asperger Syndrome. For example, Maria Curie, Wolfgang Mozart, Thomas Jefferson and even Albert Einstein.
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Asperger Syndrome in Children
Asperger syndrome in children is closely intertwined with autism, but is an independent disorder. Children with a similar ailment have a normal level of intelligence, but special educational needs. Parents should pay special attention to the development of social skills in babies. A feature of the syndrome is the patient’s intelligence. In 95%, children with Asperger are more developed compared to their peers, although they differ in the line of behavior and perception of the world around them.
Kanner syndrome and Asperger Syndrome
Kanner’s syndrome and Asperger’s syndrome are disorders that occur due to impaired functioning of the brain. In their symptoms, both pathologies are similar, so they are often confused. Consider the main characteristics and differences of Asperger syndrome from autism:
- Intellectual and cognitive activity
People with Kanner syndrome seem to be mentally retarded, although in most cases, intelligence is normal. In addition, patients experience difficulties in the communication process. Asperger Syndrome has less severe symptoms, normal or even high intelligence, but there are problems with the learning process.
Autistic patients suffer from impaired verbal communication. Children with this symptom begin to speak later, unlike their peers. Even in adulthood, speech remains limited. People with Asperger Syndrome do not suffer from impaired speech skills. Their speech is structured, has a peculiar rhythm, pace and melody.
With Kanner’s syndrome, adaptation to the external environment is poor, and with Asperger’s disorder, patients show interest in the outside world.
With autism, behavior is limited, patients perform certain rituals in an unchanged and strictly established order. With a highly functional disorder, simultaneous focus on two or more objects of interest is possible. A high level of competence in the area of interest is observed.
Patients with Kanner syndrome develop self-care skills late. Patients can not always independently take care of themselves, even in adulthood. With Asperger Syndrome, self-care opportunities develop according to age.
People with autism suffer a changeable mood, they are unpredictable and incomprehensible to others. This is what causes a low need for interaction with others. With Asperger Syndrome, social interaction is milder. Such people can be described as a bit strange or even peculiar. Patients are not able to communicate at the level of emotions, but are capable of intellectual communication.
According to the above characteristics, the symptoms of Asperger syndrome are less pronounced, unlike Kanner's syndrome. But both disorders make it difficult to interact with others, and the ability to establish social contacts. Treatment of pathologies consists of behavioral therapy, which is aimed at eliminating stress and taking medications to improve blood circulation in the brain.
Famous people with Asperger Syndrome
Famous people with Asperger's Syndrome are a vivid example of the fact that with this disorder you can live fully and even become famous. That is, despite the fact that the ailment will complicate many aspects of life, it can become a kind of unique talent. Experts believe that some historical figures may have Asperger Syndrome, in particular:
- Albert Einstein
- Charles Darwin
- Isaac Newton
- Marie Curie
- Jane Austen
- Andy Warhole
- Lewis Carroll
- Ancient Greek philosopher Socrates
According to some sources, from our contemporaries, the American filmmaker Stephen Spielberg, Satoshi Tajiri, actor Dan Ackroyd and many others are upset. Arguments in favor of a possible syndrome in popular people vary from person to person. But there are a number of positive aspects of the disease that many famous people have allowed to become famous, consider them:
- Good memory.
- Focus on certain topics, which leads to extensive knowledge and allows you to become an expert in a specific field.
- Systematic thinking and concentration on details.
- A view of the world from a unique perspective.
All assumptions about famous individuals with Asperger's Syndrome are a model of behavior, that is, a role model or an object of imitation for patients. Pathology is not an obstacle to making a contribution to society and constructive things.
Diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome
Diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome is difficult, as the disorder has symptoms similar to other pathologies. A disorder is detected at the age of 4 to 12 years, while the earlier the diagnosis is made, the less traumatic it is for the patient and his environment. To detect the disease attract specialists from different fields. The patient is waiting for neurological and genetic studies, intellectual tests, determination of the ability to live independently and various kinds of psychomotor tests. A conversation is held in the form of communication and games with the child and his parents.
Mandatory is differential diagnosis. So, in many patients, bipolar disorder, hyperactivity disorder and attention deficit disorder, depressive conditions, obsessive-compulsive and generalized anxiety disorders are detected. Oppositional disorder is also possible. All of the above pathologies can occur simultaneously with Asperger syndrome. Moreover, each of the diagnoses has its own effect on the patient.
But most often, Asperger syndrome is differentiated from Kanner’s syndrome, that is, autism. Consider the main guidelines for the differential diagnosis of both disorders:
- The first signs of autism appear in the first year of a patient's life, in some cases even in the first month after birth. Asperger's Syndrome makes itself felt in 2-3 years of the patient's life.
- With Kanner’s disorder, the children begin to walk and only then speak. In the second disorder, speech appears first, which develops rapidly and only after that the children begin to walk.
- With Asperger Syndrome, speech is used for communication, but very peculiarly. In autism, speech skills are not needed for communication, as the communication function is impaired.
- In patients with autism, intelligence is reduced in 40% of patients, and in 60% there is a pronounced mental retardation. With Asperger, intelligence is normal or above normal age.
- Kanner’s syndrome is often compared to schizophrenia, patients do not maintain eye contact and live in their own world. Asperger's disorder is equated with psychopathy, patients do not look in the eye, but understand the presence of the interlocutor. Such patients live by their own rules and laws, but in our world.
- In autism, the prognosis is poor, since atypical mental retardation and schizoid psychopathy are possible in the future.Asperger Syndrome is characterized by a favorable prognosis. But with age, these patients suffer from schizoid psychopathy.
Asperger Syndrome Test
A test for Asperger syndrome allows you to identify the presence of pathology and promptly seek medical help. Great interest in the disorder among scientists and patients, entails the improvement of diagnostic methods. This is due to the lack of obvious signs of the disease, according to which you can make a diagnosis. Therefore, tests and questionnaires are necessary to detect the disease.
As a rule, a test for Asperger syndrome is built on determining difficulties in communication and identifying feelings. Many tests are also used to detect autism. Consider the most popular tests:
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The most famous 50-questionnaire developed by psychologists at Cambridge University. The questions are aimed at identifying empathy, a deep interest in certain topics, the presence of rituals and concentration on trifles. A similar test is used for adult patients. According to its results, in healthy people the average value was 14-16 points, and in patients 32 or more points. Please note that the test cannot be used as a single diagnostic method.
A test to determine emotional intelligence, that is, the level of empathy. Consists of 60 questions that relate to different aspects of empathy. The average test score in healthy people is 40 points, in patients - about 20 points.
A general test for identifying Asperger and autism symptoms in adult patients. The peculiarity of testing is that only behavioral factors at the moment and in patients over 16 years are taken into account. Testing eliminates bipolar, post-traumatic, depressive and a number of other disorders. RAADS-R consists of 80 questions, while in healthy people the average score is 32, and in patients from 65 to 135.
Testing that allows you to determine the mental state by sight. It consists of photographs of the eyes of famous people who depict different emotions. Patients with the syndrome have difficulty passing this test and have poor results.
In addition to the tests described above, there are also Western testing standards for detecting a disorder. Of particular note are the ADI-R and ADOS tests. The first is a kind of interview with parents, and the second with a child.
- ADI-R - is used to diagnose patients from the age of 1.5 years. The test is aimed at determining a complete history of pathology and consists of more than 90 questions, divided into 5 main categories. The psychiatrist asks questions for information about the level of communication, the nature of behavior, and general questions.
- ADOS are tasks in the form of a game aimed at the interaction between a psychologist and a test subject. Testing consists of 4 modules, which depend on the degree of development of the patient.
When applying tests for Asperger Syndrome, it must be remembered that the test results cannot be used to make a diagnosis. For accurate diagnosis, many other methods are used, as well as consultations with a psychologist and psychiatrist.