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As with all autism spectrum disorders, a number of important symptoms are helpful in diagnosing Asperger’s in children. These include poor nonverbal language interpretation and expression, and impaired social interaction. The failure to have successful social interchanges with others is due, in part, to the conversational style of someone with this disorder, which is often one-sided and lacks expression. Children with this condition may also have trouble in school from the onset, even if they have above-average intelligence. Other possible signs of this disorder are awkward mannerisms and repetitive behavior.
In early years, a child with Asperger’s often has normal cognitive and behavioral development. It may be difficult to pick up on early signs of Asperger's. Parents may or may not notice speech that seems expressionless. They’re also not likely to be concerned if a child has an obsessive interest in a single topic like playing music, since this is characteristic of many kids.
Moreover, despite serious deficits in communicating with others, Asperger’s in children is frequently marked by strong vocabulary skills. This may mean that even young kids acquire vocabulary and use it properly at an early age. Those with this condition often have language fluency that predates their ability to walk or run well.
Typically, Asperger’s in children becomes more evident when children are placed in social environments. They may soon show they have trouble talking with peers or teachers. Part of this has to do with their difficulties interpreting nonverbal language. Kids with autism spectrum disorder may not be able to understand gestures and tone, or another person’s behavioral cues that they’re bored or want to change subjects. Affected kids also may make odd or repetitive gestures or sounds that socially isolate them from peers.
Peers may especially ignore these kids after a few attempts at conversation because of a tendency in those with Asperger’s to talk in self-interested ways on topics that are not of interest to others. Such children may also lack the ability to make their conversation interesting because they may not possess a ready command of nonverbal language. Instead, their verbal attempts may seem wooden or atonal.
Asperger’s in children frequently shows up as failure in early learning on topics like reading and math. Kids with this condition miss a large part of the instruction that is delivered nonverbally, which may account for 50-90% of all communication. Those with autism spectrum disorder may also have trouble concentrating or separating important communications from distracting noises in a classroom.
Social isolation, poor grades, and high distractibility should be considered as potentially indicative of learning disorders, especially when they are paired with parental and teacher knowledge of a child’s poor communication skills. When symptoms of Asperger’s in children are ignored, continued isolation from peers can result in significant emotional damage. An early diagnosis provides kids with therapies and interventions that may help them academically and socially.
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