There are various symptoms that can be seen in a youngster with Aspergers (AS) or High Functioning Autism (HFA). Parents can use a checklist to closely observe their kids when they are fairly young. Children on the autism spectrum:
- often lack motor skills
- often speak in an odd tone or pitch
- adhere to routines and have repetitive habits
- have difficulty interacting at a social level
- are often unable to make a coordinated plan
- fail to get the undertone of a speaker
- have difficulty empathizing because they have a hard time understanding the feelings of others
- have narrowed interest fields and are often focused on one particular subject or topic
There is no treatment for AS or HFA as such, but there are many ways in which a parent can help his or her youngster to cope with this disorder. Often times, there is an additional disorder found in the child, which worsens the situation. Fortunately, medication is used to help the child deal with these comorbid conditions.
There are several medicines and therapies that have been discovered so far that help to control the symptoms of AS and HFA as well as comorbid conditions (e.g., ADHD, anxiety, depression). Certain medicines are prescribed by the physicians to bring ADHD under control; however, many of them show side effects such as twitches, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, stomach aches, and headaches. Fortunately, most of these side effects subside within a few weeks.
There are programs conducted in various schools that help the youngster by training him and helping him understand social cues and non-verbal language. In these training sessions, a communication specialist can always be brought in to help the youngster with social communication and social interaction skills. With proper training, these "special needs" kids can easily learn about the social cues, which is often taught in a way that one is taught a foreign language. They can also be taught to speak in a natural pitch and rhythm, and they can be trained to understand the various communication gestures like tone of voice, undertone like sarcasm and irony, eye contact and much more.
There are certain behavioral training procedures and therapies that have been adopted in order to train kids on the spectrum when it comes to behavioral disorders. These therapies help to curb such habits as interrupting, obsessions, anger and other emotional outburst. Cognitive behavior therapy appears to be a very effective method for changing unwanted behavior in AS and HFA children and teens.