Does your baby have Aspergers?
Early detection of Aspergers is difficult because kids who have this disorder are high-functioning.
Here are some signs and symptoms reported by parents with children who were later diagnosed with Aspergers:
• As their language develops, Aspergers kids often have pronoun reversal, such as saying, “you want help” instead of “I want help.”
• Aspergers infants are often described as having been “serious” and or “thoughtful.”
• Aspergers kids often do not wave “hi” or “bye” when expected and do not use a pointing gesture to share items of interest.
• Kids with Aspergers begin to talk at the expected age, saying their first words around 12 months of age. However, their actual first words are often unusual (e.g., such first words as palm pilot, sheetrock, clock, mountain, fish, hammer). These words are generally used before the youngster says “mommy” or “daddy.”
• Language is often interpreted extremely literally (e.g., one 4-year-old boy would get upset when his mother said that she was going to “fix dinner” because the dinner was not broken).
• Many moms and dads also report extreme “stranger anxiety,” where their babies would fuss or become highly anxious whenever anyone other than mom and dad were around.
• Many moms and dads of kids with Aspergers report that their newborns were excessively fussy or “colicky.” The babies were difficult to comfort and were often soothed by unique means (e.g., listening to the dishwasher, being held high in the air, laying on a running washer or dryer).
• The infants often show more interest in objects than people.
• They are often able to memorize phrases or chunks of dialogue which they use in their everyday speech (e.g., one 34-month-old would say, “Junky, that’s a big one” whenever he saw an animal of any size).
• Use of gestures is often either absent or exaggerated.
Here is an informal test parents can conduct to determine whether or not further testing is needed:
1. Choose a time when the baby is alert and calm. A tired, cranky infant may not yield accurate results in this test. Hold the infant at the waist in the upright position over a bed, couch or other soft surface.
2. Slowly tilt the infant to the left. Stop when the baby is at a 45 degree angle. Repeat this test by slowly leaning the infant to the right until the infant is at a 45 degree angle.
3. Note whether the infant tries to keep his head upright or if he keeps it aligned with the rest of his body. A baby with Aspergers will try to keep his head aligned with his body. A typical infant will try to keep his head in the upright position.
4. Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4. Repeating the test will ensure that the results are accurate. The second trial could be conducted by another adult.
5. Check for other signs. Does the child respond to his name? Does she smile at others? Does he make sounds or babble? A "no" to these questions is a red flag.
6. Follow through with a visit to the doctor. Any hint that your baby has Aspergers deserves an examination. The doctor can offer formal screening tools if it is deemed necessary.
The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook