There are no tests for Asperger syndrome. The diagnosis is based on observations of the child's behavior. Neuropsychological and IQ tests may be done. Medical tests may be ordered to help rule out other conditions. Children and their families can benefit from early intervention. Knowing what is wrong also helps families understand why the child acts differently than other children.
There is no treatment to cure Asperger syndrome. Treatments aim to control symptoms and improve social skills. Children often learn to function independently when they become adults. However, they usually continue to experience problems with social interaction. They may be at risk for learning disabilities, such as
attention deficit disorder
(ADD). They also may develop mental health problems, such as
. Children with Asperger syndrome need love and understanding, as well as a structured schedule.
Drugs to help control symptoms may include:
- Mood-altering drugs
Drugs to control
- Serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as
- Neuroleptics—such as
may be helpful in improving sleep. But, talk to the doctor before giving herbs or supplements to your child.
Behavior modification therapy and training can help children develop social skills. Learning how to make and keep friends is a challenge for children with Asperger syndrome.
Caring for a child with Asperger syndrome can be stressful. Counselors help parents learn how to manage the child's behavior. Suggestions include:
- Give warnings that an activity is about to end and provide ways to save the task for later. For instance, a favorite television show may be recorded for later viewing.
- Try to include some flexibility into the day.
- Set limits on the amount of time the child can spend on a single, obsessive activity.
- Keep directions simple.
- Use precise words.
- Limit choices to two or three things.
- Avoid using figures of speech.
- Make lists.
- Do not assume a child with this disorder understands what has been said simply because he can repeat it back to you.
- At an early age, start explaining what is appropriate behavior for public and private places.
- Do not make idle threats or promises.
- Give praise for accomplishments, especially social skills.
Children with Asperger syndrome usually have a normal IQ. However, they have special educational needs. They often can attend regular schools. They may need extra support in the classroom. Special attention should be paid to building social skills. Teachers should be informed of the child's needs. Children with Asperger syndrome may be teased or bullied because they seem different.