Is Aspergers Syndrome Autism

Asperger's Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Therapy

What is Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger's syndrome belongs to the spectrum of autistic disorders. The Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger first described the disease in the past century. He had noticed certain behavioral peculiarities that were found in four small patients and that showed obvious similarities. The children all showed a pronounced lack of human sympathy and could not recognize expressions of feeling in other people. They did not make friends with other children and hardly participated in social life with other people. To this end, all four devoted themselves intensively to a rather unusual area of ​​interest. Hans Asperger noticed that gestures and facial expressions were noticeable, as well as their precise but strangely formal and monotonous language. The children were clumsy and had slight motor impairments.

Asperger's syndrome is usually diagnosed at the earliest at the age of three. Before that, the children develop largely normally. Only language development starts comparatively early (usually before free running) and then makes very rapid progress. The affected children are usually average or highly intelligent. The future prospects are very different. As adults, some lead a completely inconspicuous life with a job, spouse and children. Others never achieve the status of complete self-employment. In general, it can be said that the symptoms are less pronounced in adults. This makes it difficult to make a clear diagnosis of Asperger's in adults.

Asperger's Syndrome - Causes

The research assumes a disorder of the neuronal and mental development. Both the anatomy and the functionality of the brain are affected. This leads to emotional deficits and, as a result, not infrequently to problems in social life. The emotional world of other people remains foreign to autistic disorders. As previously assumed, the causes of Asperger's do not lie in a poor upbringing or a loveless home. An above-average age of the parents at the time of birth is now considered a risk factor. Genetic changes are also assigned an important role.

Rather, Asperger's seems to be a mild variant of early childhood autism. In the future, Asperger's will no longer be considered an independent disease, but will be classified under the autism spectrum disorders. In some cases, Asperger's is even completely questioned as a disease. In addition to impairments, those affected also have advantages over their fellow human beings. Accordingly, some scientists see Asperger's syndrome only as a natural variant of human information processing.

Mental strengths of Asperger's patients:

  • objective perception of non-emotional issues
  • close introspection
  • above-average memory performance
  • high attention
  • partly high or island talents

Asperger's Syndrome - Symptoms

In contrast to autism, Asperger's Syndrome is usually only recognized in kindergarten age. Before that, the differences to normal child development are barely noticeable. In adulthood, the symptoms of this disorder from the autistic spectrum are often less pronounced because those affected come to terms with the stress of Asperger's syndrome and adapt to their social environment (highly functional autism).

Typical symptoms of Asperger's:

  • Limitations in making social contacts
  • Problems with social interaction
  • reduced emotional world
  • Deficits in empathy (affective theory of mind)
  • Clumsiness, awkward movements
  • motor incoordination
  • ritualized movement patterns
  • stereotypical behavior
  • Avoiding eye contact
  • lack of social empathy
  • Selfishness
  • formal, monotonous language
  • Enthusiasm for unusual special interests

Asperger's Syndrome - Course

Asperger's symptoms, which are noticeable in childhood, can gradually regress with increasing age. This mainly takes place as a gradual adjustment process to the conventions of the prevailing interpersonal coexistence. Much depends on the individual abilities of the people concerned. Those who manage to achieve a certain stability and continuity in their work and in the family environment have a particularly good prognosis. On the other hand, breaks in biography can throw people with Asperger's off track faster than those who are not affected.

Sometimes Asperger's also occurs with other mental disorders. Common side effects include depression related to problematic social interaction. Sometimes an obsessive-compulsive personality disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder can also be present at the same time. Overlaps with ADHD, Tourette's syndrome, and anorexia can also occur. This makes diagnosis considerably more difficult.

Asperger's Syndrome - Diagnosis

The specialist doctor responsible for diagnosing suspected Asperger's in adults is the psychiatrist. In the case of children, a specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry takes over the examination. Asperger's is very difficult to diagnose reliably. This begins with the safe demarcation from the other autism spectrum disorders. But many other mental disorders, such as ADHD or obsessive-compulsive disorder, can show similarities to Asperger's syndrome. The list of the so-called Gillberg criteria can provide an indication of the doctor's approach. The Swedish professor of child and adolescent psychology, Christopher Gillberg, and his wife, Carina Gillberg, have developed a checklist to help diagnose Asperger's syndrome:

Diagnostic criteria according to Gillberg and Gillberg:

Social impairment (extreme self-centeredness)

(at least two of the following characteristics):

  • a. Inability to interact with their peers
  • b. lack of desire to interact with their peers
  • c. lack of understanding of social signals
  • d. socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior

Narrowed interests

(at least one of the following characteristics):

  • a. Exclusion of other activities
  • b. repetitively following the activity
  • c. more routine than importance

Repetitive routines

(at least one of the following characteristics):

  • a. for yourself, in relation to certain aspects of life
  • b. for others

Speech and language peculiarities

(at least three of the following characteristics):

  • a. (delayed development)
  • b. (on the surface) perfect linguistic expression
  • c. formal, pedantic language
  • d. strange speech melody, "foreign" accent, strange voice characteristics
  • e. impaired understanding, including misinterpretation of literal / implied meanings

Nonverbal communication problems

(at least two of the following characteristics):

  • a. limited eye contact
  • b. limited gestures
  • c. awkward / awkward body language
  • d. limited facial expressions
  • e. inappropriate expression
  • f. strange stare

Motor awkwardness

(existing feature):

  • a. Poor performance in studying neurological development

In addition to this checklist, there are many other tests, such as the "Marburg assessment scale for Asperger's Syndrome". What all tests have in common is that they can only provide initial indications of Asperger's. However, they are not sufficient as the sole basis for a reliable diagnosis. The characteristic symptoms of Asperger's have a lot of overlap with other mental disorders. Before making the diagnosis, the doctor will carefully check whether one of the diseases listed below is not present. Asperger's sufferers may also suffer from one of these disorders.

Differentiating the diagnosis of Asperger's from other diseases:

  • Early childhood autism (Kanner syndrome)
  • Borderline personality disorder
  • Rett Syndrome
  • ADHD
  • Schizoid personality disorder
  • Schizotypic personality disorder
  • Atypical autism
  • paranoia
  • schizophrenia
  • Urbach-Wiethe syndrome
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Asperger's Syndrome - Therapy

There is currently no causally effective therapy. Treatment is therefore limited to supportive measures that can help you cope with everyday life. If Asperger's Syndrome is recognized in good time, targeted early support is used. It is considered to be particularly promising. These are mostly behavioral techniques. The children practice social and communication skills in a group.

Ergotherapy and physiotherapy are also offered. Exercising, making music, and dancing are also helpful in encouraging the children. Riding therapy is also considered to be well suited. It trains motor coordination and strengthens self-confidence. Psychotherapy always makes sense if other problems, such as anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders, arise beyond Asperger's syndrome. As with autism, Asperger's sufferers also benefit from a social environment without strong and constant changes. Stable circumstances and everyday routines give autistic people security.

Drugs used to treat Asperger's side effects:

No drug treatment is available for the therapy of Asperger's Syndrome itself. If there are other disorders as an additional burden, some of these can be treated with medication. Here, among other things, means are given to improve hyperactivity or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Some patients can also benefit from antidepressants. The attending physician can provide further information here.

Asperger's Syndrome in Children

Asperger's is a disorder that affects not only childhood but the lives of adults as well. The diagnosis is not made before the age of three in most people. Before that, the affected children seem to develop completely normally. Most of the time, the disorder is noticeable in kindergarten or elementary school when social interaction with other people becomes more important. Treatment and support as early as possible improve the prospects for the further course of life. There are various offers that help to cope with the disorder through training and communication in the group. Many Asperger's sufferers later manage to lead a self-determined life with a job and a family.

Asperger's Syndrome - ICD Code

In medicine, every illness is assigned its own ICD code. The abbreviation ICD stands for International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. The classification system is recognized worldwide and one of the most important for medical diagnoses. Asperger's syndrome is recorded under the ICD code "F.84.5". Entering this code often helps with research on the Internet.

Asperger's Syndrome - What does the health insurance company pay for and what do you have to pay for yourself?

Members of a statutory health insurance basically have the right to inpatient and outpatient care, to drugs and other services. As a rule, however, certain personal contributions (additional payments) are stipulated by law. These additional payments amount to 10 percent of the costs, but a maximum of 10 euros per additional payment. If the service costs less than 5 euros, the insured person must pay the actual price.

These limits also apply to pharmaceuticals. If the person concerned receives a particularly inexpensive preparation, there is no additional payment. The health insurances can determine fixed amounts that they reimburse if several preparations with the same active ingredient are available. Medicines, the price of which is 30 percent below this fixed amount, are reimbursed by the health insurances without additional payment.

In addition, there is a regulation that the statutory health insurance no longer has to reimburse the individual price of the respective drug for certain preparations, but only the fixed amount that has been set for a group of comparable preparations. If the prescribed medication is more expensive, the patient has to pay the additional price himself plus the statutory additional payment for the reimbursed portion of the costs.

Co-payments also apply in the event of a hospital stay. They amount to 10 euros per calendar day, whereby the additional payment only has to be made for a maximum of 28 days per year. Several hospital stays can be combined in one year, so that the maximum additional payment for inpatient treatment is 280 euros per calendar year.

In the case of home nursing, a one-time fee of ten euros is due for the prescription. In addition, a personal contribution of 10 percent per day is to be paid. The co-payment is limited to 28 calendar days per calendar year and is only charged for adults over 18 years of age. The upper limit of EUR 280 per calendar year also applies to home care. Co-payments for hospital stays count towards the cap on co-payment for home nursing.

If the costs for household help are covered by the health insurance, the insured must make an additional payment of 10 percent of the costs incurred. The limits are at least 5 and a maximum of 10 euros per calendar day. This co-payment obligation applies to the entire period in which domestic help is used.

In the case of aids, the insured must make an additional payment of 10 percent of the selling price, with an upper and lower limit of 10 and 5 euros per prescription.

The amount of co-payments for rehabilitation measures depends on the measure and the respective cost bearer.

The costs for pain therapy in a pain clinic are usually covered by any statutory health insurance company, as it is a contracted medical service. However, additional costs (such as additional payments for prescriptions) may arise privately.

The costs of a classic body acupuncture are covered by all statutory health insurances for chronic pain in the lumbar spine or knee osteoarthritis. It is assumed that the pain has existed for at least six months. In such cases, legally insured persons are entitled to up to ten acupuncture sessions per case of illness within a maximum of six weeks. A new treatment can take place no earlier than twelve months after completion of the last acupuncture treatment. The health insurance will only reimburse the costs if the treatment is carried out by a qualified doctor. Acupuncture from a naturopath is not accepted. The costs are then to be paid privately.

Asperger's Syndrome - What does the DFV do?

The outpatient supplementary health insurance DFV-AmbulantSchutz reimburses you for additional payments provided for by law for medicines, bandages, remedies and aids and travel costs as part of outpatient treatment. The DFV-AmbulantSchutz also offers you extended pension benefits and is also there to support you financially if a serious illness is diagnosed.

In the event of illness, with the additional hospital insurance DFV-KlinikSchutz Exklusiv, you do not wait longer than 5 days for an appointment with a specialist doctor.

You also benefit from head physician treatment, a single room, free choice of hospital and daily hospital allowance for an inpatient clinic stay. DFV-KlinikSchutz makes you a private patient in the hospital including international health insurance.

FAQ on: Asperger's Syndrome

Does Asperger's Syndrome Need Treatments?

Accompanying and supportive therapy is particularly useful in childhood. The children benefit from this support. As an adult, the prospects of being able to lead a self-determined life without psychological stress improve considerably. Social communication with other people also usually improves.

Can vaccinations cause Asperger's?

No. The suspicion that parenting deficits or a lack of parental care could trigger Asperger's syndrome has not been confirmed either. Rather, neurological changes that are attributed to the Asperger's symptom are already present in the embryonic stage.

What does Asperger's got to do with autism?

Asperger's Syndrome is one of the autism spectrum disorders. In this respect, one could say that it is a mild form of autism. Parallels can be found in the disturbances in social contact with other people. However, there are also significant differences between autistic behavior and the development of the disease in autism. The first symptoms of Asperger's show up in the third year of life at the earliest, while the diagnosis of autism can be made earlier.

What tests can be used to diagnose Asperger's?

There are tests that can help diagnose Asperger's syndrome. "Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule" (ADOS) and "Australia Scale for Asperger's Syndrome" (ASAS) are specially tailored to children. Some tests can even be taken without an evaluator's analysis. The "Autism Spectrum Quotient" (AQ) and the "Empathy Quotient" (EQ) are self-assessment instruments for adults that can be completed independently. However, these tests alone are not sufficient for a reliable diagnosis.

Which doctor should be seen with Asperger's?

In the case of children, the specialist in child and adolescent psychiatry should be consulted. For adults, diagnosis and therapy are carried out by a specialist in psychiatry.

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All statements without guarantee.