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Asperger syndrome: A lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world
Asperger syndrome (AS) is an autism spectrum disorder characterized by significant impairments in social interaction, social communication, and restricted patterns of interest in the presence of intact language. The condition has genetic roots.
The incidence of the disease has been found to be on a rise globally making awareness generation crucial. Disease estimates across countries range from 1 in every 250 children to 1 in every 10,000. It is four times more likely to occur in males than in females and usually is first diagnosed in children between ages 2 and 6, when communicative and language skills are emerging and settling.

The symptoms of Asperger's syndrome vary and can range from mild to severe.

Children with Asperger's syndrome generally have difficulty interacting with others and often are awkward in social situations. They generally do not make friends easily and face have difficulty initiating and maintaining conversation. They also often develop odd, repetitive movements, such as hand wringing or finger twisting. A child with Asperger's syndrome may develop rituals that he or she refuses to alter, such as getting dressed in a specific order. They also avoid making eye contact when speaking with someone and have problems understanding language in context and are very literal in their use of language.

Speaking about the same, Dr SS Agarwal, National President IMA said in a statement, "Asperger syndrome is a form of autism. It is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. It is often described as a 'spectrum disorder' because the condition affects people in many different ways and to varying degrees. In most cases the condition remains hidden given that it is difficult to diagnose just by looking at a person's outward appearance. The main issues faced by those suffering from the condition are in social communication, interaction and imagination. With the right support and encouragement, people with Asperger syndrome can lead full and independent lives and must not be judged and discriminated against. In fact those found to be suffering from the condition are also found to be exceptionally talented or skilled in a particular area, such as music or math."

Diagnosis of the disease can be done through various ways. Many individuals with Asperger's have low muscle tone and dyspraxia, or coordination issues. Although there are no tests for Asperger's syndrome, the doctor may use various tests -- such as X-rays and blood tests -- to determine if there is another issue or physical disorder causing the symptoms. In addition to this, he or she will also base the diagnosis on the child's level of development, speech and behavior, including his or her play and ability to socialize with others.

At present, no cure for Asperger's syndrome exists. However therapy is found to help improve functioning and reduce undesirable behaviors. A few ways in which the condition can be managed include:

  • Special education structured to meet the child's unique educational needs

  • Behavior modification through strategies for supporting positive behavior and decreasing problem behaviors.

  • Speech, physical, or occupational therapy designed to increase the child's functional abilities.

  • Social skills therapies

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