Asperger Syndrome and Autism
You've probably heard of autism, but what is Asperger syndrome?
Potential Causes continued...
How would fetal hormone testing be used if parents could find out ahead of
time about the possibility of Asperger syndrome, and might parents consider the
termination of a pregnancy based only on this
"I'd certainly be very concerned if the test was used in that way,"
says Baron-Cohen. "Autism isn't necessarily a condition where quality of
life is in any way decreased, especially when it comes to AS. These individuals
-- if they are given the right support -- can lead a very valuable
Researchers can only speculate for now about how this link, if proven, might
impact future treatments. "Some people think we might be able to intervene
at the hormonal level," says Baron-Cohen, "by changing the hormones in
the womb, but again this is ethically very complex." After all, a lot of
people with AS want to be better understood and accepted by others, not treated
or cured. "AS is not just a disability. People with AS might have an
unusual memory for detail or an ability to focus on things for hours and
hours," he tells WebMD regarding the many positive and at times puzzling
aspects of this condition.
Treatment and Diagnosis
One of the most important things to remember when talking about Asperger
syndrome is how different each case is, says Newman. "To hear that a person
is autistic really gives you next to no information. The person's language
abilities, their ability to interact with others, their behavioral patterns all
Treatment typically involves behavior modification and therapy, and
sometimes medications for other co-existing mental health conditions.
"The best treatment that is available is something called applied behavior
analysis," says Newman. "The New York State Department of Health did a
test for analyzing all of the available treatments and they came to the
conclusion that this is really the only form of treatment that had
peer-reviewed data to strongly support its effectiveness."
Lou Schuler tells WebMD what it's like to have a child with Asperger
syndrome; his son Harrison was diagnosed with the condition when he was 6 years
old. "I don't think it will ever be that you get one cookie cutter
treatment that works for everyone," he says, and perhaps this is true of
all children facing difficulties.
Meanwhile many kids with Asperger syndrome survive childhood despite never
getting diagnosed or treated for it. Given how expensive and extensive the
proven treatment services are, without a proper diagnosis Schuler says no one
-- except folks that are extremely wealthy -- could afford the services.
"I don't think there is a downside to getting diagnosed or labeled,"
Schuler says. "One of the more destructive things you can do is pretend
your kid can be educated and cared for the same way kids without these special
needs are." If you ignore or deny problems, your kids might not get the
attention or services they need. "That is virtually a guarantee that they
will not only be different, but they will be unhappy -- maybe even tragically
so," Schuler tells WebMD.