Teenage Aspergers: Symptoms, Treatment And Care To Take

check_icon Research-backed

In This Article

Aspergers in teenagers might affect their quality of life, including social and interpersonal skills, if not treated correctly. Asperger’s syndrome or Asperger’s disorder belongs to the group of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). Although not considered a case of severe mental illness, if left untreated, children might find it hard to communicate or act and show repetitive behavior but have good language and cognitive skills (1).

Read on to know about the symptoms, causes, management, and long-term outlook of Asperger’s syndrome in teenagers.

What Does Asperger’s Look Like In Teenagers?

To an untrained individual, a teen with Asperger’s may come across as a neurotypical child behaving differently. Teens with this disorder usually like to follow a monotonous lifestyle and hate any changes in their routines. Also, they may consider themselves a misfit among their peers and show disinterest in interacting with others.

They seem to make little or no eye contact, have few facial expressions, and come across as socially awkward as they may fail to understand conversations, gestures, or sarcasm. A teen with Asperger’s syndrome usually has less severe symptoms than a teen with autism, and they also don’t usually have speech delays (2).

What Are The Symptoms Of Asperger’s Syndrome?

The signs and symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome generally appear in early childhood and develop progressively in adolescence. The symptoms may vary among teenagers; however, some common symptoms include (1) (3):

  • Avoiding social interactions and friendships.
  • Sensitivity to light and sounds.
Sensitivity to light and sounds could indicate Aspergers in teens

Sensitivity to light and sounds could indicate Aspergers in teens

  • Using nonverbal communication – not being able to converse despite having good language skills.
  • Repeating behaviors and having a fixed routine and interests.
  • Inability to empathize with others or comprehend typical social norms and instructions.
  • Frequent aggressive or eccentric behavior – being frustrated if things don’t happen their way.
  • Being emotional about things said to them and being overly sensitive to criticism.
  • Difficulty making friends.

What Causes Asperger’s Syndrome In Teenagers?

The exact cause of Asperger’s syndrome is not known. However, experts believe that genetic, neurobiological, and environmental factors play a role.

In addition, Pregnancy-related aspects such as older parents during conception,  chromosomal abnormalities such as fragile X syndrome, and medications taken by the mother for anxiety or mood disorders might also increase a child’s risk for Asperger’s syndrome (4).

Did you know?
Around 11 to 40 percent of children and teens with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are likely to be affected by anxiety disorders (13).

Several genes are associated with Asperger’s syndrome, with the major one being the GABRB3 gene, which is also associated with other Autism spectrum conditions (5). Research is ongoing for understanding the different genetic variations and environmental factors that are potential triggering factors of this syndrome.

Note: Asperger’s syndrome is not caused due to bad parenting, immunization, or other social circumstances.

When To See The Doctor?

You may consider taking your child to a qualified health professional (child psychologist or speech pathologist) if they show any signs of autism or have difficulties in (6)

  • Making friends of their age or speaking or playing with them.
  • Communicating; they seem to be awkward and lost.
  • Understanding others’ perspectives and feelings.
  • Understanding the nuances and depth of a language.
Research finds
A recent group study demonstrated that teens with Asperger’s syndrome are at a higher risk of developing mental health problems, including depression and bipolar disorder. Therefore, it is vital to identify your teen’s symptoms early to initiate timely diagnosis and management (14).

How Is Asperger’s Syndrome Diagnosed?

Take your child to a doctor if they show any signs of autism

Image: Shutterstock

Doctor may conduct standardized screenings for diagnosing Aspergers in teens

Image: Shutterstock

Diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome is made by a medical professional experienced in studying autism spectrum disorders. It is based on thorough observation and assessment of the teen’s developmental history. In addition, the teen may be questioned to learn about their learning and social abilities, movement skills, and special interests.

The evaluation can take a few years and is usually done at home, school, or in a playroom setup (3). In addition, a doctor may conduct standardized screenings such as autism-specific screening tests and blood or genetic tests to look for any underlying inherited disorders such as fragile X syndrome or hereditary metabolic disorders (7).

What Are The Treatment Options For Asperger’s Syndrome?

A combination of medications and therapies to improve social, behavioral, and communication skills is proven to help teens with this condition.

  • Medications: Risperidone and aripiprazole are FDA-approved drugs given to reduce the symptoms and control self-injurious behaviors. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine and paroxetine are effective in reducing repetitive behaviors. Mood stabilizers and stimulants help control hyperactivity and eccentric behavior in teens (7) (8).
Risperidone is an FDA-approved drug for symptoms reduction

Image: Shutterstock

These drugs must be taken under the supervision of your child’s psychologist or doctor, as they pose a risk of side effects.

  • Alternative therapies: Cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy, and applied behavior analysis-based therapies may be recommended to help the teen build social skills and independent living skills such as punctuality and grooming.
  • Other therapies include intravenous immunoglobulin therapy, individualized educational programs, auditory integration training, and specialized diet therapy (8). These therapies are not widely used as they are still being researched. Hence, you may consult the child’s physician before proceeding with any of these therapies to provide a personalized treatment regimen according to the child’s requirements. 
Quick tip
Talk to your teen to comprehend their likes and dislikes and design effective treatment and management strategies to manage their negative emotions.
IV immunoglobulin therapy can be useful for teens with Aspergers

Image: Shutterstock

Is There A Cure For Asperger’s Syndrome?

There is no cure for Asperger’s Syndrome (3). However, timely diagnosis can help you take the necessary steps to avert any potential risks. Moreover, with a vast range of treatment options available, it is now possible to treat and manage the condition.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can Asperger’s get worse in the teenage years?

There is a lack of sufficient information to prove this hypothesis. Nevertheless, if the teen has Aspergers along with other mental health problems or psychiatric conditions, their symptoms may increase (10).

2. Can you discipline a teenager with Asperger’s?

To discipline your teenager with Aspergers, you may try these tips (11):

  • Maintain good communication and a healthy relationship with your teen
  • Set realistic and clear rules and tell them the consequences of following or not following them
  • Have a fixed routine for all their habits and interests
  • Educate them about the essential skills to deal with difficult situations
  • Do not forget to reward them for following appropriate behaviors

3. Does Asperger’s affect the physical appearance of teenagers?

Although it is not well known whether Asperger’s syndrome could impact the physical appearance of teens, one study discovered that boys with the Autism spectrum disorders showed distinctive facial characteristics compared to their typically developing peers (12).

Asperger’s in teens is a type of Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) characterized by communication and behavioral problems. Teens with Asperger’s struggle to fit in their social circle, lead a monotonous life, and are disturbed by slight changes to their routine. The symptoms of this disorder include being sensitive to light and sounds, avoiding social interactions, eccentric behavior, and repeating behaviors. Though there is no cure for this condition, consult your healthcare provider immediately as you notice any signs in your teen to ensure they receive proper diagnosis and treatment.

Infographic: Tips For Making Teens With Asperger’s Syndrome Independent

Teenage is the time when all individuals aspire for independence and often have conflicts with their parents. A teen with Asperger’s syndrome should be trained to commute and survive independently. You may gradually let them do things independently from a young age while ensuring their safety. Go through the infographic to learn some tips to balance the risks while letting independence to your teen with Asperger’s syndrome.

ways to teach independence to teens with asperger’s syndrome [infographic]
Illustration: MomJunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • A teen with Aspergers may avoid social interactions, be sensitive to criticism, and use more non-verbal communication.
  • Although Asperger’s falls under autism spectrum disorders (ASD), it is not a severe illness.
  • It is diagnosed by a medical professional by observing the teen and after conducting screening tests.
  • The treatment includes medication and other alternative therapies to holistically improve the teen’s life.

References:

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Asperger’s Syndrome.
    https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/aspergers-syndrome
  2. Asperger’s Syndrome.
    https://www.autism-society.org/what-is/aspergers-syndrome/
  3. Asperger’s Syndrome.
    https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Asperger-syndrome
  4. Asperger’s Syndrome.
    https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/5855/asperger-syndrome
  5. Varun Warrier et al.; (2013); Genetic variation in GABRB3 is associated with Asperger syndrome and multiple endophenotypes relevant to autism.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3903107/
  6. Autism and adults.
    https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/autism-spectrum-disorder-and-adults
  7. Stephen Brian Sulkes, MD Autism Spectrum Disorders.
    https://www.merckmanuals.com/home/children-s-health-issues/learning-and-developmental-disorders/autism-spectrum-disorders
  8. Melissa DeFilippis and Karen Dineen Wagner; (2016); Treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorder in Children and Adolescents.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5044466/
  9. Susan L. Hyman, et al.; (2020); Myers, Identification, Evaluation, and Management of Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder.
    https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/145/1/e20193447
  10. B Mirkovic and P Gerardin; (2019); Asperger’s syndrome: What to consider?
    https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/145/1/e20193447
  11. Discipline strategies for autistic children and teenagers.
    https://raisingchildren.net.au/autism/behaviour/common-concerns/discipline-for-children-teens-with-asd
  12. Kristina Aldridge et al., (2011); Facial phenotypes in subgroups of prepubertal boys with autism spectrum disorders are correlated with clinical phenotypes.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21999758/
  13. Autism Statistics and Facts
    https://www.autismspeaks.org/autism-statistics-asd
  14. Alexandra C. Kirsch et al. (2019); Association of Comorbid Mood and Anxiety Disorders With Autism Spectrum Disorder.
    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/article-abstract/2755414
  15. Depression and low mood: autistic teenagers.
    https://raisingchildren.net.au/autism/health-wellbeing/mental-health/depression-teens-with-asd#strategies-to-help-autistic-teenagers-with-depression-or-low-mood-nav-title
Was this article helpful?
thumbsupthumbsdown
The following two tabs change content below.