Approaching the world of Aspergers
To help people with this form of autism spectrum disorder, it must be understood.
In 1944, the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger came across the case of four children whose behavior showed difficulties in social integration.
These were children with a level of intelligence that was within the statistical normality, but with significant deficits in certain more specific abilities, such as the ability to put themselves in the shoes of others, the ability to use the resources of nonverbal communication, or the ability to coordinate several precise movements in a more or less orderly manner. This made them clumsy in certain activities that required movement, as well as in interpersonal relationships..
The "autistic psychopathy"
At first, Dr. Hans coined the term "autistic psychopathy" to refer to this still unexplored phenomenon, and described it as a disorder, emphasizing its implications for the social life of those who developed this disorder: they tended to isolate themselves and to deal little with othersPerhaps because of the frustrating situations caused by misunderstandings and general communicative incompatibilities with other children.
It took a few years before this clinical entity was given the name Asperger's syndrome.This was done by Dr. Lorna Wing in 1981 after having studied the case of another group of children presenting the symptoms described by the previous researcher under the name of autistic psychopathy.
Then, in 1992, Asperger syndrome was added in the tenth edition of the International Classification of Diseases Manual (ICD-10) and two years later, in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV). Since then, this term has become increasingly popular and well-known at the grassroots level.
What is Asperger syndrome?
Asperger syndrome is a neurobiological disorder that is part of the autism spectrum disorders (ASD).It is a concept that groups together a set of psychological alterations of a chronic nature and whose causes are unknown, although they share a similar symptomatology.
From what has been observed through various neuroscience research, the brain of a person with Asperger Syndrome functions differently from that of most people, especially with regard to communication and social interactions in general, as well as in performing typical daily tasks in those who have an autonomous life, and in adapting appropriately to daily demands. Thinking patterns are rigid, based on clear rules, and stop working well if something goes wrong.The thinking patterns are rigid, based on clear rules, and cease to function well if something in the environment starts to change a lot or introduces an element of chaos.
On the other hand, these symptoms begin to become evident at a very early age, around the second or third year of life. Normally, the first warning signs appear when parents observe abnormal clumsiness and poor psychomotor skills in their child. Unlike what happens with cases of autism that do not fall into the category of Asperger syndrome, language is not affected, although the use of language is, taking into account the context, as we will see.as we will see.
On the other hand, experts in the field estimate that approximately two out of every 10,000 children have developed Asperger syndrome, and it has also been seen that it occurs much more in males than in females.
The specific symptoms of Asperger's syndrome are the following, although keep in mind that not all of them need to be present, and that this disorder can only be diagnosed by a licensed mental health specialist..
- Reiterative rituals
- Peculiarities in language (formal, monotonous speech...)
- Difficulty with non-verbal communication (limited expressions, stiffness...)
- Deficient and uncoordinated motor skills
- Inadequate socio-emotional behavior
Young people with Asperger's syndrome tend to assume an approach to language characterized by literalityThe sentences mean what the set of technical definitions of the words used explicitly show.
Therefore, people with symptoms associated with Asperger's syndrome have a more difficult time picking up hints, detecting moments when a friend or family member needs emotional support, recognizing what is a joke and what is not, etc.
How is it diagnosed?
In most cases the diagnosis is made around the age of 7 years, although as we have seen, the diagnosis is made at the age of 7 years.However, as we have seen, the symptoms appear much earlier. In addition, there is the added difficulty that the diagnostic criteria for Asperger's syndrome have as their main reference children, so it is not so well known how it affects adults or older people.
In the diagnostic manuals used by psychiatrists and psychologists, Asperger Syndrome syndrome is placed among the developmental disorders in general and in the autism spectrum in particular.. This syndrome was officially recognized in the fourth edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) and it is in the fifth edition of this manual (DSM-V) where the diagnostic category of Asperger syndrome disappears, referring now to autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The severity of the disorder (level 1, level 2 or level 3) will be determined by the level of impairment and the aids required.
ICD-10 describes Asperger syndrome by showing its impact on the reciprocal social interaction typical of ASD, and also associates with it a phenomenon of another kind: persons with Asperger syndrome tend to develop very specific and well-defined areas of interest.It is not frequent that they have a level of intelligence far below the average, reaching intellectual disability.
Psychotherapeutic contributions in Asperger's disease
It is crucial to know how to make a diagnosis that fits adequately with reality and that allows psychological assistance to the person with Asperger syndrome, taking into account their special needs. In addition, psychological intervention should be carried out as soon as possible, taking into account that the degree of psychological vulnerability of children is greater than that of adults..
On the other hand, psychological intervention designed to enable the person to better manage his or her problems should be designed and implemented by accredited specialists. In addition, if possible, we try to involve family members in this process, given that collaborative work in therapy and in the domestic environment is more effective. (both contexts work towards the same result: to have a positive impact on the patient).
In this way, many people can contribute to the improvement process by learning about the thinking, expectations, stressful or uncomfortable situations and needs of that particular person who has developed Asperger Syndrome. This includes friends, teachers, doctors, counselors, etc.
As Asperger's syndrome affects several areas of life, it does not consist of a single method and strategy, but of several adapted to each area of life.but several adapted to each specific objective. Fundamentally, the following forms of psychological intervention are resorted to.
1. Training in basic social skills
In these sessions, the person is helped to become familiar with the language codes that do not respond to the formal way of speaking, and they are helped to know what to do in those moments when they are unable to interpret what others say.
In psychotherapy, we create a context in which the patient questions his or her dysfunctional beliefs and habits that generate discomfort, especially if this discomfort has a direct impact on him or her.especially if this discomfort has to do with the disorder with which the person has been diagnosed.
In the case of Asperger's syndrome, it is especially important to learn to manage anxiety, as this is something that greatly affects this type of patient.
Occupational or physical therapy
This intervention makes a lot of sense if the person has problems to live autonomously performing coordinated movements that are part of everyday life. that are part of everyday life: getting dressed, using a computer, etc.
What progress can be made in therapy?
According to Isabel Sanchez Montero, psychologist expert in contextual therapies and part of the team of Psychologists Malaga PsicoAbreu, one of the most important steps at the time of knowing the diagnosis and during the time of treatment is the "acceptance" by the family. A child with Asperger Syndrome needs, like any other child, guidance and help to be able to develop in the world, and our work involves changing the perspective of the family.Our work involves changing the perspective and our interpretation of the experience, rather than forcing their times and developments to become our own.
Paying attention to small advances, however small they may be, and ignoring those things that do not have much importance; using language and rules in a flexible and moderate way, teaching them to listen through our patience and repetition, using adequate information in a clear and concise manner, all this will be of great help so that the day to day life of these families is not full of helplessness, complaints and frustration. Sometimes, the biggest challenge is to change the eyes with which we see the world.
Although people with Asperger's may need support and care throughout their life cycle, the truth is that these people can learn to cope with the situations they face. can learn to cope successfully with social situations and personal relationships.. Proof of this are those adults who carry out their professional and family work effectively.