Developmental Disabilities

Developmental Disabilities: Asperger’s Syndrome

The Nystrom & Associates provider consulted for this article is Julie Yaekel-Black ElkPh.D., LPCC-MN, LPC-WI, Clinic Director & Outpatient Therapist 

Asperger's syndrome (AS) is a developmental disability. Developmental disabilities describe several conditions that can impair an individual’s behavior, learning, speech, or physical development. Symptoms begin in childhood years and are typically present throughout the rest of their lives.   Related: How Mental Health Affects Physical Health

Asperger's Syndrome as a Developmental Disorder 

Asperger's syndrome is characterized as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Prior to 1994, Asperger's was not considered as part of the autism spectrum. As put by Outpatient Therapist, Julie Yaekel-Black Elk:
Asperger’s is now considered a developmental disorder on the autism spectrum and is no longer considered a separate diagnosis. Individuals with Asperger's have often not been viewed as having a developmental disability due to commonly being characterized as having standard or higher than average intelligence.
Learn more about the causes and symptoms of developmental disabilities on our specialty page.  

Asperger's Syndrome Symptoms 

The main symptom of AS is a child’s obsession with one topic or object, with little to no interest in any other topic or object. In addition, more distinguished symptoms of AS include issues with nonverbal communication, socially inappropriate behavior, and the inability to successfully interact with others. When it comes to their topic of choice, children with Asperger’s typically have a high level of vocabulary and utilize formal speech.  
As professionals, how do we recognize those who struggle with a developmental disability such as Asperger's if it is not so evident due to having higher intellectual functioning? Individuals with Asperger's typically speak fluently but have problems reading social cues and engaging in reciprocal conversation. This can cause social awkwardness which can cause them to avoid social activities completely and isolate themselves.
That isolation can lead to negative consequences. For example, loneliness can lead to unhealthy coping skills or exacerbate other mental health problems. On the other hand, with proper care and support, children with AS can become independent adults. Their relationships and social situations might still be challenging, but there are ways to cope in a positive manner. Related: How to Cope With Life Transitions

Treatment for Developmental Disabilities 

There are several ways to treat developmental disabilities, however, with Asberger's, early intervention is best.  
Behavioral and educational interventions complemented by social skills training and cognitive behavioral therapy can assist those who have felt socially isolated explore their strengths which have often stood out to the degree of achieving incredible success. 
Moreover, with the help of a  qualified mental health professional, those with AS hone in their strengths and work with them to improve their communication skills.   Related:  How to Build & Maintain Communication Skills

A Word From Nystrom & Associates 

All in all, developmental disabilities can be hard to cope with. If you need help with diagnosis or treatment, please contact our coordinators. In addition, Nystrom & Associates offers skills training and cognitive behavioral therapy to treat Asperger's syndrome, along with other developmental disabilities. Call 1-844-NYSTROM or make an appointment online today. 

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