This week’s edition of HH101 focuses on Asperger Syndrome and other related mental health issues
In honor of July being National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month my Hood Health articles this month will feature a different mental disorder each week. It is incredibly important that we begin an honest and open dialogue about mental health issues within the black community. If we do not begin to acknowledge the issues, then we have no way of developing the strategies necessary to cope with or overcome the complexities that they present. A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Ultimately, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life according to the National Alliance on Mental illness.
This particular article will focus on Asperger’s Syndrome. According to the Mayo Clinic, Asperger’s syndrome is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate effectively with others. Individuals with Asperger’s syndrome typically exhibit social awkwardness and an all-absorbing interest in specific topics. Asperger’s syndrome is grouped with other conditions that are called Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). These disorders all involve problems with social skills and communication. Some of the indicators are listed below:
**Problems with social skills: Individuals with Asperger’s generally have difficulty interacting with others and often are awkward in social situations. They generally do not make friends easily. They have difficulty initiating and maintaining conversation.
**Eccentric or repetitive behaviors: Individuals may develop odd, repetitive movements, such as hand wringing or finger twisting.
**Unusual preoccupations or rituals: A person with Asperger’s may develop rituals that he or she refuses to alter, such as getting dressed in a specific order.
**Communication difficulties: People with Asperger’s syndrome may not make eye contact when speaking with someone. They may have trouble using facial expressions and gestures, and understanding body language or understanding social cues. They also tend to have problems understanding language in context and are very literal in their use of language.
**Limited range of interests: An individual with Asperger’s may develop an intense, almost obsessive, interest in a few areas, such as sports schedules, weather, or maps.
**Coordination problems: The movements of individuals with Asperger’s syndrome may seem clumsy or awkward.
**Skilled or talented: Individuals with Asperger’s syndrome are exceptionally talented or skilled in a particular area, such as music or math.
Individuals with Asperger’s can also experience intense emotional meltdowns over small situations to bigger ones. For example, if you tell an Aspie person that you are going to do something like go to the store, then that is the expectation. When that action promised does not happen then an emotional meltdown (crying, arguing, etc.) can ensue. Often times with the emotional response seeming to be potentially over the top. Not to mention that they may hold on to this “let down” for an extended period of time. Routines tend to help individuals with Asperger’s greatly due to the comfort of knowing what to expect. There is no “cure” for Asperger’s. Individuals simply have to find resources and methods to assist them with developing certain areas or skills. Keep in mind however, that Aspie individuals are highly intelligent persons they simply need more patience and understanding because they process things differently. I must note that I have met some of the most intelligent, witty, creative, and amazing individuals who just happen to have Asperger’s. I will not say that dealing with Asperger’s is always easy for everyone involved, but there is a beautiful blessing within its complexities as well.
Diets that are high is processed foods do not help some of the issues that are found with individuals with Asperger’s. I found that many of the issues that I personally experienced with my children have changed due to their diet. I put my family on a vegan diet, limited processed foods, and we have not looked back since the transition. Once the changes were made, some of the intensity of certain things subsided a great deal.
I want you to keep in mind as you read these articles what their purpose is. The articles are not intended to assist you in ascertaining a diagnosis, nor are they meant to provide you with an in depth perspective of each illness. They are intended to provide you with a degree in information on the illness and its symptoms. If you have questions or need to be evaluated, please see your healthcare professional.