Sperger syndrome refers to a high-functioning form of autism. While once classified as its own condition, Asperger's is no longer an official diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Behavior attributed to Asperger's is now covered by the umbrella diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. People with high-functioning autism/Asperger's often have difficulty in social situations and may not understand the perspectives and feelings of others. However, their language and cognitive skills are often typical. People with the condition may also make certain, repetitive body movements. They often have an orientation to details and an interest in systematization, which can be seen as an obsession. Some may show remarkable ease in a narrowly focused and often non-social field, such as baseball statistics or train schedules.
Signs and symptoms
Asperger's was a separate diagnosis in the previous version of the DSM. In the DSM-5, published in 2013, Asperger is part of the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Symptoms include:
1. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction in more than one context. Examples include an inability to engage in back and forth conversation, a lack of eye contact, or an inability to maintain relationships over time.
2. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. Examples include repeating the same hand gesture consistently, sticking to routines or focusing on a particular area of interest, such as the subway system.
For diagnosis, the symptoms will be present during the person's childhood and will cause significant difficulties in the person's daily life.The DSM-5 classifies the severity of autism in three levels. Level 1 is classified as "Support Required". Level 2 is classified as "Requiring significant support". Level 3 is classified as "Requiring very significant support". As Asperger's is historically a mild form of autism, it can be mapped to Level 1.
Asperger's treatment primarily aims to teach social and communication skills. Social skills training focuses on the tools necessary to interact successfully with other children. Speech therapy can help children improve their speaking skills and understand normal shopping patterns. Cognitive behavior therapy is often used to help children manage their emotions and rein in obsessive interests and repetitive routines. Sensory integration therapies may help some children, while exercise and physical therapy may help those with poor motor coordination. Parents often need training and support in behavioral techniques to use at home.