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Asperger's Syndrome and Autism

You've probably heard of autism, but what is Asperger's syndrome?

Treatment and Diagnosis continued...

Lou Schuler tells WebMD what it's like to have a child with Asperger's 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's 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 says.

Newman has observed a very different problem. "I find that many parents very strongly believe that something is amiss, and they are told by their pediatrician, 'No, everything is fine, you're being nervous. Give it another six months,'" he says.

Unfortunately, experts do agree that time is the key to making progress with AS, and it's important parents pay attention. "The first thing you look for is if your kid is more deeply interested in himself -- the main thing is that they don't engage in the world like others do," Schuler says. "They are intelligent but can't carry on a social conversation or interaction."

Newman says that with intensive treatment the possibilities are very good for tremendous progress to be seen. "Without treatment, most people unfortunately do require tremendous help throughout their lives just to function in everyday life. With early intensive intervention, however, the outlook may be much brighter."

Growing Older With Asperger's Syndrome

Many adults with Asperger's syndrome are successful academically, and move on to jobs. "Where they tend to be held back is on the social side in terms of relationships. Many of them are very lonely and suffer from depression because they can't make friends," Baron-Cohen says.

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