Thursday, April 15, 2010

Asperger's Syndrome by Navina, Jeetha and Hui Xin :)




Asperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, and people with it show difficulties in social interactions, as well as restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. Furthermore patients with this disease also have physical clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported. Asperger’s syndrome is named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger who, in 1944, described children who lacked nonverbal communication skills, demonstrated limited empathy with their peers, and were physically clumsy. There is no single treatment, and the effectiveness of particular interventions is supported by only limited data.

Moreover, people with Asperger’s syndrome often display behavior, interests, and activities that are restricted, repetitive and are sometimes abnormally intense or focused. They may stick to inflexible routines, move in stereotyped and repetitive ways, or preoccupy themselves with parts of objects. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome may collect volumes of detailed information on a relatively narrow topic such as weather data or star names, without necessarily having any understanding of the topic. For example, a child might memorize camera model numbers while caring little about photography. Although these special interests may change from time to time, they typically become more unusual and narrowly focused.

Besides that, people with this syndrome often have a limited range of intonation: speech may be unusually fast, jerky or loud. Speech may convey a sense of incoherence; the conversational style often includes monologues about topics that bore the listener, fails to provide context for comments, or fails to suppress internal thoughts. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome may fail to monitor whether the listener is interested or engaged in the conversation. The speaker's conclusion or point may never be made, and attempts by the listener to elaborate on the speech's content or logic, or to shift to related topics, are often unsuccessful.

Another symptom of this syndrome is children with it may have an unusually sophisticated vocabulary at a young age and have been colloquially called "little professors", but have difficulty understanding figurative language and tend to use language literally. Children with this syndrome appear to have particular weaknesses in areas of non-literal language that include humour, irony, and teasing. Although individuals with it usually understand the cognitive basis of humor they seem to lack understanding of the intent of humour to share enjoyment with others.

Hans Asperger described common symptoms among his patients' family members, especially fathers, and research supports this observation and suggests a genetic contribution to the cause of Asperger’s syndrome. A few ASD cases have been linked to exposure to teratogens which are agents that cause birth defects found normally during the first eight weeks from conception. Although this does not exclude the possibility that this disease can be initiated or affected later, it is strong evidence that it arises very early in development. In theory, many environmental factors tend to act after birth, but none has been confirmed by scientific investigation.

The ideal treatment for Asperger’s Syndrome patients coordinates therapies that address core symptoms of the disorder, including poor communication skills and obsessive or repetitive routines. While most professionals agree that the earlier the intervention, the better, there is no single best treatment package. Furthermore, no medications can directly treat the core symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome. Although research into the efficacy of pharmaceutical intervention for this disease is limited, it is essential to diagnose and treat comorbid conditions. Care must be taken with medications, as side effects may be more common and harder to evaluate in individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome, and tests of drugs' effectiveness against comorbid conditions routinely exclude individuals from the autism spectrum.

Abnormalities in metabolism, cardiac conduction times, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes have been raised as concerns with these medications, along with serious long-term neurological side effects. Weight gain and fatigue are commonly reported side effects of risperidone, which may also lead to increased risk for extrapyramidal symptoms such as restlessness and dystonia and increased serum prolactin levels. Sedation and weight gain are more common with olanzapine, which has also been linked with diabetes. Sedative side-effects in school-age children have ramifications for classroom learning. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome may also be unable to identify and communicate their internal moods and emotions or to tolerate side effects that for most people would not be problematic.

The example of people with Asperger’s Synrome is Liane Holliday Willey. Liane Holliday Willey is a popular keynote speaker and best-selling American author. She is a wife, mother and avid horsewoman. She was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome in 1996. In addition to being an educator and keynote speaker, she is the senior editor of the Autism Spectrum Quarterly and the founder of the Asperger Society of Michigan.

As a conclusion people with Asperger’s Syndrome should not be shunned or be underestimated. They are just as capable of achieving their dreams as anyone else is. Nowadays, to create more awareness about this syndrome, many books such as The Second Opinion has been published and movies such as My Name is Khan has been created. As human beings, we should treat everyone equally regardless whether they are handicapped or not.



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