Most people know a thing or two about Autism, while others have at least heard of the condition. But what about another condition that is similar to Autism called Asperger’s Syndrome? More than 5 million America’s Next Top Model viewers may have asked themselves the same question when Cycle 9 contestant “Heather” announced that she had the condition. While Heather may have seemed ok to us ANTM viewers, her fellow contestants, and Tyra Banks, witnessed firsthand how this syndrome affected the model and those around her.
While Asperger’s Syndrome is not a debilitating condition, it is a neurological disorder that shares some of the same symptoms as Autism. The main symptom of Asperger’s is severe trouble handling social situations, but there are no other severe physical or mental disabilities involved, as there are with some Autistic individuals. For example, people with autism may be observed rocking back and forth and flapping. 50% of Autistic individuals never speak, and only 33% will ever achieve partial independence.
Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome have the following symptoms in common:
The individual appears to lack empathy
The individual avoids eye contact
May have unusual facial expressions or postures
They have a need for sameness or routine
Difficulty starting or maintaining a conversation
Preoccupied with certain topics or only a few interests
Other Asperger’s Symptoms include:
Inability to pick up on social cues and lack inborn social skills
Flat speech and inability to recognize differences in speech tone in others
May have a formal style of speaking
One-sided conversations are common. (The individual will more than likely only talk about what interests them, and won’t pick up on the other persons disinterest in the subject).
Internal thoughts are often verbalized
May have delayed motor development
Handwriting is usually poor
Heightened sensitivity, which may cause them to become over-stimulated by loud noises, lights, or strong tastes
People with Asperger’s usually have average to advanced language and intellectual skill, while many Autistic people do not. Although 10% of Autistic individuals do have savant skills. This is probably one of the reasons why Asperger’s has only recently been recognized as a neurological disorder. People with Asperger’s tend to have many admirable qualities. They tend to excel academically, they do not typically follow fads or social norms — allowing for more creative thinking, they prefer honesty and rules (important to success in all areas of life), and their attention to detail and focused interest only increases their chances of success. Many people with Asperger’s tend to excel in the areas of science, technology, and engineering, and others ago on to become college professors, computer programmers, and dentists, to name a few.
Unlike Autistic individuals who don’t typically have any control over many of their symptoms, those with Asperger’s do recognize and understand their symptoms, and many will make an effort to develop friendships, engage in conversation, carry a conversation, or understand body language and expressions. They have the ability to go against their condition.
Like Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome is a lifelong condition. While there is no cure for Asperger’s, the condition does tend to improve over time, mainly in the adult years, and there are some treatments. Treatments are typically based on the individual’s specific symptoms and may involve counseling, activity-oriented groups, and in some cases, medication – especially if other conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are present.
To date, there are no known ways to prevent Asperger’s, but there are some nutritional and supplemental recommendations for individuals coping with both Autism and Asperger’s. These recommendations may help ease certain symptoms that are present, as well as help individuals avoid triggering certain symptoms.
It’s best to add the following foods to the diet:
Beans and legumes
Fruits and vegetables (important to eat 50-75% raw foods, shoot for organic/free from pesticides)
Hormone and antibiotic-free skinless turkey
Low fat, all natural yogurt
It’s best to strictly limit or eliminate the following from the diet:
Canned, packaged, processed, and refined foods
Excessive amounts of salt
Foods that contain artificial colors, flavors and preservatives
Foods that contain MSG
Most dairy products (with the exception of low fat soured dairy)
Research shows that Autistic individuals (and in some cases individual’s with Asperger’s) may have food sensitivities that may trigger symptoms. Citrus fruits, dairy products, and strawberries are some of the most common culprits.
There are several different supplements that may help ease symptoms by improving brain function and nervous system functioning. They are:
Calcium & Magnesium
Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) *increases alertness
Vitamin B complex
Keep in mind that all supplements should be dairy, wheat, and yeast-free. They should also be free from artificial colors.
For more information about Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, visit the Autism Research Institute at: www.autism.com.