Autism Rates and Asperger’s Syndrome
Given these alarming results, one might wonder what’s behind all of this. It turns out that the questionnaire used in the survey may play a pivotal role.
For the first time, the CDC asked specifically about Asperger’s syndrome, something it hadn’t done previously because Asperger’s had its own diagnosis. However, in 2013, Asperger’s was eliminated as an official diagnosis and, instead, is now encapsulated under autism spectrum disorder.
Given the new classification, the more than 11,000 families that were asked to complete the survey were asked if health professionals ever told them their child had autism, Asperger’s, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) and autism spectrum disorder.
The addition of Asperger’s undoubtedly played a role in the rise of autism rates reported in the survey, which explains part of this bump. However, researchers are not certain this is the sole reason for the increase.
You may be wondering, seeing as autism spectrum disorder now includes Asperger’s, if there is a difference between autism and Asperger’s specifically. So let’s explore the similarities and differences between the conditions.
Autism — and ASD — is actually an overarching term for complex brain development disorders. Previously, it had its own classification under the PDD label and now is commonly the term used to describe most, if not all, autism spectrum disorder conditions. Autism is typically characterized by social interaction difficulties, repetitive actions and behaviors, and both verbal and nonverbal communication issues.
When people refer to autism, they typical describe a developmental disorder that begins in early childhood and, as mentioned, affects language, behavior and social skills.
There’s no known exact cause, but it’s believed to be a combination of exposure to toxins, medications taken during pregnancy, infections, inflammation, leaky gut syndrome, inborn errors of the metabolism, food allergies, nutrient deficiencies and any other number of factors.
The most obvious signs and symptoms of autism usually emerge between the ages of 2 and 3, and they include:
- Need for repeated rituals
- Repetitive and compulsive behaviors
- Repetition of certain motor activities
The repetition of motor activities is often the viewable symptoms of autism. Some of these include:
- Head banging
- Hand or limb flapping
- Body rocking
- Feeling textures
- Teeth grinding
These symptoms also often appear in children with Asperger’s syndrome, which may explain why the Asperger’s diagnosis was disbanded and is now instead included in the ASD umbrella.
Some of the best autism natural treatments include:
- Fish oil
- Digestive enzymes
- Vitamin D
Autism and Asperger’s syndrome may also have co-occurring conditions such as Tourette syndrome.
What Is Asperger’s Syndrome?
Asperger’s disorder — named after Austrian doctor Hans Asperger, who first recognized the disorder in 1944 — is another PDD that delays development. It most often presents itself as a social disorder.
As such, the symptoms of Asperger’s often involve inhibited social skills and include:
- Awkward social skills — difficulty interacting with others and maintaining conversations
- Repetitive and eccentric behaviors — hand-wringing or finger-twisting
- Unordinary rituals or preoccupations — getting dressed in a specific order
- Communication troubles — avoid eye contact, don’t display expressions, neglect body language
- Limited range of interests — obsessive in nature
- Coordination difficulties — clumsy and awkward movements
- Highly skilled in one area — music or math, for example
There is no cure for Asperger’s, but there are steps you can take to treat the condition. Different forms of therapy in combination can help reduce problem behaviors and improve overall functioning. These include:
- Special education — to meet an individual child’s needs
- Behavior modification — supporting positive behavior and decreasing problem behaviors
- Occupational, physical and speech therapy — to increase normal functioning
- Social skill therapy — build social skills and ability to read verbal and nonverbal cues
- Medications — symptoms can be treated, however there is no medication to specifically treat Asperger’s
Much like autism, there is no known exact cause to Asperger’s. However, it seems to be heredity to some degree and appears due to a variety of factors, most likely.