Senior Caregiver Alert: Understanding the Essentials of Asperger’s Syndrome

Several forms of autism have been identified over the last decade. One form that is of particular interest to seniors is Asperger’s Syndrome. While the cause of autism is still a mystery, experts in the field tend to agree that genetics plays a large role in the disorder. Additionally, Asperger’s is four times more common in males.

While signs and symptoms may show throughout a lifetime, Asperger’s syndrome is normally diagnosed in late adulthood. The condition often causes many children to be bullied in school or teased by classmates for exhibiting such unusual behaviors. The problem is that a good number of mentally healthy children experience the same issues, leaving parents unable to recognize the presence of Asperger’s syndrome.

Asperger’s vs Autism

When comparing the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome to the symptoms of autism, caregivers will notice both similarities and differences. For example, the similarities include an inability to relate to others, an obsessive focus when performing tasks and a lack of problem solving skills. In contrast to seniors with autism, Asperger’s syndrome allows for a bit more socialization and does not cause an additional delay in cognitive development.

Communication and Social Behaviors

Asperger’s causes most seniors to encounter difficulty when attempting to socialize and communicate with others. For example, when speaking with an Asperger’s senior, you’ll likely notice that he or she tries to control the conversation. These seniors are unable to recognize that others in the group would like to get a word in.

Additionally, seniors do not consider the group may be uninterested in the topic of conversation.
Seniors suffering from Asperger’s syndrome also possess an inability to communicate with emotion or to pick up natural and non-verbal cues. Caregivers may notice a senior loved one consistently speaks using a flat, droll and monotone voice. It often sounds like someone reading from a dull script, emitting no signs of emotion or passion.

Obsessive Rituals

A senior with Asperger’s syndrome can often be seen partaking in routines and focusing on one small task. For example, if your senior loved one is interested in painting, he or she might spend days on end using red paint to draw circles. They show no interest in using an alternate paint color or drawing a different shape. This narrow focus can easily prevent seniors from learning skills or discovering new horizons.

While there is no cure for Asperger’s syndrome, caregivers and seniors will be happy to learn there is hope. By participating in cognitive behavioral therapy, focused speech therapy and professional counseling sessions can each help to alleviate many of Asperger’s more troubling symptoms.

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