Asperger Syndrome

Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger’s, is a developmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. (Source) As a milder autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it differs from other ASDs by relatively normal language and intelligence. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and unusual use of language are common. Signs usually begin before two years old and typically last for a person’s entire life. (1)

In mainstream medicine, the exact cause of Asperger’s is unknown. (1). Its mechanisms remain elusive and its underlying genetics have not been determined conclusively. (2). Environmental factors are also believed to play a role (op cit, first footnote). Up to now, brain imaging has not identified a common underlying problem.  (2) The diagnosis of Asperger’s was removed in the 2013 fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), and people with these symptoms are now included within the autism spectrum disorder along with autism and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS). (3) It remains within the tenth edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) as of 2015. (4)

There is no single mainstream treatment, and the effectiveness of particular interventions is supported by only limited data. (2) Treatment is aimed at improving poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines and physical clumsiness. (5)  Interventions may include social skills training, cognitive behavioral therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, parent training and medications for associated problems such as mood or anxiety. (bid) Most children improve as they grow up, but social and communication difficulties usually persist. (6)

Some researchers and people on the autism spectrum have advocated a shift in attitudes toward the view that autism spectrum disorder is a difference rather than a disease that must be treated or cured. (7)

In 2015, Asperger’s was estimated to affect 37.2 million people globally. The syndrome is named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger, who in 1944 described children in his practice who lacked nonverbal communication, had limited understanding of others’ feelings, and were physically clumsy.(8) The modern conception of Asperger syndrome came into existence in 1981 and went through a period of popularization. It became a standardized diagnosis in the early 1990s. (9).  Many questions and controversies remain about aspects of the disorder. There is doubt about whether it is distinct from high-functioning autism (HFA). (10). Partly because of this, the percentage of people affected is not firmly established.

In innovative medicine, the underconnectivity theory behind Asperger’s syndrome hypothesizes the modification of signaling molecules that circulate in the gut-brain axis, one consequence of which is high-level neural connections and synchronization. Because the Asperger children appear to have a limited ability to see what adults see as the “big picture”, they are often seen by their school-mates and  teachers as weird or odd. There is still much ambiguity in this “disease” and one could speculate that this disorder is nothing less than a new name or label for an old reality, the reality of shy and eccentric children, some of whom can turn out to be geniuses.

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(1). “Asperger syndrome definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary”. Retrieved 16 May 2018.  “Asperger’s syndrome”. Oxford Dictionaries. Retrieved 16 May 2018. Autism Spectrum Disorder”. National Institute of Mental Health. September 2015. Archived from the original on 12 March 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2016.

 (2) McPartland J, Klin A (October 2006). “Asperger’s syndrome”. Adolescent Medicine Clinics. 17 (3): 771–88; abstract xiii. doi:10.1016/j.admecli.2006.06.010 (inactive 2018-08-20). PMID17030291. ^ Klauck SM (June 2006). “Genetics of autism spectrum disorder”. European Journal of Human Genetics. 14 (6): 714–20. doi:10.1038/sj.ejhg.5201610. PMID 16721407

(3).  “Autism Spectrum Disorder”. National Institute of Mental Health. Archived from the original on 9 March 2016. Retrieved 12 March 2016.

(4). Asperger syndrome”. World Health Organization. 2015. Archived from the original on 2 November 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2016.

(5). National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) (31 July 2007). “Asperger syndrome fact sheet”. Archived from the original on 21 August 2007. Retrieved 24 August 2007. NIH Publication No. 05-5624.

(6). Woodbury-Smith MR, Volkmar FR (January 2009). “Asperger syndrome” (Submitted manuscript). European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. 18 (1): 2–11. doi:10.1007/s00787-008-0701-0. PMID 18563474.

(7).  Clarke J, van Amerom G (2007). “‘Surplus suffering’: differences between organizational understandings of Asperger’s syndrome and those people who claim the ‘disorder'”. Disability & Society. 22 (7): 761–76. doi:10.1080/09687590701659618. Baron-Cohen S (2002). “Is Asperger syndrome necessarily viewed as a disability?”. Focus Autism Other Dev Disabl. 17 (3): 186–91. doi:10.1177/10883576020170030801. A preliminary, freely readable draft, with slightly different wording in the quoted text, is in: Baron-Cohen S (2002). “Is Asperger’s syndrome necessarily a disability?” (PDF). Cambridge: Autism Research Centre. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 December

(8). Frith U (1991). “‘Autistic psychopathy’ in childhood”. Autism and Asperger Syndrome. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 37–92. ISBN 978-0-521-38608-1. Klin A, Pauls D, Schultz R, Volkmar F (April 2005). “Three diagnostic approaches to Asperger syndrome: implications for research”. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 35 (2): 221–34. doi:10.1007/s10803-004-2001-y. PMID 15909408. Wing L (1998). “The history of Asperger syndrome”. In Schopler E, Mesibov GB, Kunce LJ. Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism?. New York: Plenum press. pp. 11–25. ISBN 978-0-306-45746-3. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. See also Woodbury-Smith M, Klin A, Volkmar F (April 2005). “Asperger’s syndrome: a comparison of clinical diagnoses and those made according to the ICD-10 and DSM-IV”. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. 35 (2): 235–40. doi:10.1007/s10803-004-2002-x. PMID 15909409.

(9). Baker L (2004). Asperger’s Syndrome: Intervening in Schools, Clinics, and Communities. Routledge. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-135-62414-9. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016.

(10). Klin A (May 2006). “[Autism and Asperger syndrome: an overview]”. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria. 28 Suppl 1 (suppl 1): S3–11. doi:10.1590/S1516-44462006000500002. PMID 16791390. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007.  Kasari C, Rotheram-Fuller E (September 2005). “Current trends in psychological research on children with high-functioning autism and Asperger disorder”. Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 18 (5): 497–501. doi:10.1097/01.yco.0000179486.47144.61. PMID 16639107.

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