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Autism – Asperger syndrome

There are several forms of autism, and it is called a spectrum condition. Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) is a generic term for all diagnoses with a pervasive developmental disorder. People with autism have problems with the fundamental, immediate and mutual understanding of the outside world and understanding among people. 

What is autism and Asperger syndrome?

Within the autism spectrum, there are four diagnoses: "infantile autism", "Asperger syndrome", "atypical autism" and "pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified".
Autism is a congenital developmental disorder. People with autism have difficulties communicating with others and can have trouble understanding other people's thoughts, facial expressions and emotions. This means that they can have difficulties with how to behave in ordinary social situations.

Asperger syndrome is also a congenital developmental disorder, but people suffering from Asperger syndrome have normal intelligence. They do not have language problems, even though their language might be affected by a different way of thinking.

Symptoms

In order to establish the diagnosis, difficulties in three areas have to be present: social interaction, social communication and lack of flexibility/reduced social imagination. This results in a fundamental lack of sense of what is right and wrong or appropriate and inappropriate. In many cases, there are signs of autism very early in life, and most children with infantile autism are diagnosed before the age of three. Language disorders, stereotypies, rituals and/or special interests are normal for people with autism. Some people with infantile autism show impaired cognitive functioning (approximately 20 %).

People suffering from Asperger syndrome have trouble with social interaction and inflexibility, and their language development can be different from ordinary children's. People with Asperger syndrome often have serious problems with contact with others, because they have difficulties interpreting other people's behaviour and intentions and so others often misinterpret them. Normally, the Asperger syndrome diagnosis is not established until later in life, where the social demands are higher and the symptoms therefore become more noticeable. 

People with Autism Spectrum Disorders can have other handicaps, mental illnesses or developmental disorders, such as ADHD, OCD, or Tourette’s disorder.

Treatment

It is important that children with ASD are offered the correct special needs education as early as possible.
As autism changes and varies at different ages, it is possible for the diagnosis to change.

Find more information here:

Autism Speaks  
The Autism Association (in Danish)
 

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