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Reducing Anxiety At Home

October 24, 2014 at 12:32 pm

anxiety.jpgYour home should be a sanctuary where you can relax and wind down at the end of the day. Stress and anxiety, however, can disrupt your enjoyment at home if you do not know how to manage them properly. For a start, you can take this anxiety self test to determine how stressed you are and what the main factors causing this anxiety are. Factors that cause anxiety at home should be pinpointed, and once you know the cause, you can figure out a way to effectively control these causes so your goal of a serene and worry-free home can be realized.

 

Here are a few tips that can help minimize your anxiety while in the privacy of your home:

 

  • Secure your property. Nothing causes anxiety or worry more than being uncertain about the security of your dwelling. To ease your mind, explore appropriate safety and security systems that can protect you and your family at home. These may include electronic home alarms, security systems and access controls, surveillance equipment, etc. Simple issues such as malfunctioning garage door or broken windows or locks should be dealt with right away for your peace of mind. You can use a garage door repairs guide  if you feel you are skilled enough to do the repairs on your own.
  • Prepare for emergencies. If you know you are ready for untoward eventualities, you will be more at ease and prepared. Basic emergencies to prepare for include fire, inclement weather, or other acts of nature such as earthquakes. Have a regular inspection of your fire exits, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, or sprinklers. Train all family members on who to call, where to go, and what to do in case of an emergency.
  • Learn to relax. Anxiety is often triggered by a mind that is overworked, fatigued, and needs a time out. When you are at home, set aside a time where you can just let your mind and body relax. Various relaxation techniques you may want to look into include breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, or body massage. During your relaxation time, keep potential distractions such as mobile phones and other gadgets away, and make sure you are in a quiet area.
  • Eat right, drink right. When your body is getting the right nourishment, you wiill also be more capable of handling anxiety and stress triggers. Eat meals that are well-balanced and provide your body with the proper nutrients you need for your lifestyle. Avoid too much caffeine as this could lead to more anxiety for some people and can lead to caffeine dependence as fully discussed here. Keep your body working properly through proper hydration, or at least 7-8 glasses of water daily.
  • Get some exercise. Exercise triggers the release of hormones in your body that are relaxing and put you in a better mood. This can help ease anxiety while also keeping your body strong and healthy. Exercise at home can be as simple as using the treadmill or stationary bike, or you can invest in other home gym equipment if you have the extra room for it.
  • Read, listen to music, get creative. When you are allowing your creative imagination to appreciate good books, music, or art, you are also helping to manage anxiety and focusing your mind on something else other than what triggers the stress or anxiety. Build a library of books, e-books, or audiobooks that are positive, inspirational, and enriching. Listen to music that is soothing and relaxing when you need to calm down. If you know how to play a musical instrument, play that instrument or invite friends over to jam with you.

The Health Benefits of Travel

October 21, 2014 at 2:53 pm

healthytravelHere’s one more reason to pack that bag and book that ticket! You know that you’ve always wanted to see the world. Travelling would make you more well rounded, cultured, and open to accepting global ideas. But did you know that it could also make you healthier?

A 2013 study by the Global Commission on Aging and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies has shown that travelling rewards a person both cognitively and physically, according to the LA Times. The benefits you derive from it are similar to when you do a crossword puzzle or you visit a museum. So what exactly are the health benefits of travel?

 

1. Lesser chance of early death

Big revelation: People who go to vacations every six years have a higher chance of getting heart attack than those who travel twice a year. Everyday life can be monotonous and stressful, so why not take the chance to leave it behind for a while? Stress increases the risk of heart disease by 40%, heart attack by 25% and stroke by 50%. Leave the office and go out of town. Your salary will be useless when you’re dead.

 

2. Better sex

Another big revelation: A third of leisure travelers admit that they have more (and better!) sex while traveling. With stress left behind and responsibilities momentarily out of the window, couples enjoy their sex life with less guilt and more excitement.

Want to improve your relationship with your spouse? Travel together. It’s a more effective way to spark the romance again between you two. How exciting would it be for you and your partner to go somewhere where you have the freedom to drive your off-road vehicle just like the Jeep Brute shown here? Drive to your heart’s content and see the outside world. It will be good for your heart, and for your marriage.

 

3. Your body needs the break

As you travel and change your routine, it keeps your body and mind from stagnating. A break from the norm allows the body to replenish and repair itself. The Mind and Body Center at the University of Pittsburgh released a study that indicated that leisure activities lead to lower blood pressure, positive emotional levels and less depression.

 

4. Stress reliever

It’s no secret that Americans are stressed. It isn’t surprising, seeing as America as a country do not know how and when to relax. Occupational stress, as elaborated here, affects about one-third of workers. A survey by stress.org indicates that the average time off per year of a US employee is 10 days, plus 8 of the national holidays. And still studies say that most of them leave their vacation days unspent. You know how much time French people have off? Seven weeks. That’s 49 days, 31 whole days more than the Americans. Spain and England even requires 30 days of vacation to their employees. No wonder Europeans always seem so happy.

 

5. Your kids will be happier

It isn’t really a direct health benefit to you, but seeing your kids happy makes you happy as well, right? Children form great memories in vacations, and these memories are the ones they remember, more than birthday celebrations or other special occasions. Vacations bring families together. It is indeed true that the gift of experience is way much better than material gifts. Visit this page to get some suggestions in regard to the best adventure and experience gift ideas.

 

The US Travel Association even launched a massive campaign last 2013 called The Travel Effect. This multimillion-dollar research and marketing campaign want people to know that scientifically, pleasurable experiences derived from travelling have numerous health benefits. If a group of scientists spend that much money convincing you to travel, you know it’s good for you.

The Importance of Teaching Body Parts to Little Girls

October 14, 2014 at 6:41 am

Puberty and adolescence is never easy. It’s that awkward stage everyone undergoes while growing up. You aren’t an adult yet, but you’re not a child anymore. Biologically, your body is growing but it isn’t in proportion yet. So there’s a chance that your trunk is longer than your legs, or vice-versa, which is a nightmare for any teenager just wanting to fit in.

What many may not realize is that it’s almost as uncomfortable for the parent as it is for the teenager. It might be especially difficult for first-time parents of the opposite gender. You know as parents that it’s your duty to at least start the lessons on body knowledge and body image, but it’s understandable that you can lack the confidence to do so. It’s been a while since you were a teenager, and you might already have forgotten the problems and drama of that period in your life.

Nonetheless, it is important to teach your little girl about her body parts as soon as she can understand. Here are a few reasons why:

 

1. That Harry Potter Quote

Which one? “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself”. While we may not necessarily fear our private parts, teaching children about the correct term for their body parts will let them know that it is not criminal to talk about it. Vagina is not an offensive term, and there is nothing wrong with using this word.

 

2. More Appropriate Than Vulgar Slang

Teaching your daughter the proper names of her body parts will teach her that it is alright to use these terms when this is the topic of discussion. She will inevitably hear vajayjay, cunt, pussy, and the other words listed here but when she always hears that you use the proper terms in conversations, she will imitate you. That will save her from having to use inappropriate terms in conversations with other children (or adults).

 

3. You Become Yoda of the Body Parts

Children think their parents know everything. If they start to become curious about their body because they hear their friends use other words, then it’s your cue to establish that you are the right person to ask about these issues. Use this opportunity not only to teach your little girl about her body parts, but also about how she should value her body as well.

 

4. It Will Help With Emergencies

If your daughter suddenly tells you that something hurts “down there”, it can lead to panic. When she tells you her vagina hurts, it can still lead to panic but at least you know where to bring her. You can have an easier time telling the doctor or the nurse what pain she feels and where.

 

All these just show why it’s important that girls are taught about their body parts earlier in life. It is an essential part of their physical, and intellectual growth process. Only if you make a big deal out of it does it become a big deal. If you don’t know how to start, you can use anatomically correct dolls to teach this process. Why not use the American Doll to help you? You can purchase one for a cheaper price using your American Girl Promo Code found in these sites. It will help you teach your daughter not just about her body parts, but about the history of the country as well. You and your child can also watch educational television shows like this, which aims to answer curious questions about the human body.

Charles Darwin: Racist and Sexist?

October 8, 2014 at 4:34 am

charles_darwinDawin’s Theory of Evolution is an issue that divides the human population. You would think that it’s one of the most hated theories of all time, but if you read this article, you would be surprised as to how many people lend support to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Whether or not you accept that homo sapiens sapiens come from a line of primate ancestors, for sure you’ve heard of the Evolution Theory that discussed the origins of human beings. These theories are part of science curriculum in high school and college, and among the most renowned contributors to evolutionary studies is Charles Darwin, English naturalist and geologist.

He is best known for his five theories: evolution, common descent, species multiply, gradualism and natural selection. Yet although he is listed as one of the most influential thinkers in Western history, some historians have started to pose the question of whether Darwin discriminated against people of other nationalities,and women in general. Readers have reviewed Darwin’s writings and have found fault between the lines. Was Darwin really a racist and sexist?

Toward the end of the sixth chapter of his book The Descent of Man, Darwin wrote:

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked, will no doubt be exterminated. The break will then be rendered wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as at present between the negro or Australian and the gorilla.”

Sloppy readers have interpreted this as Darwin saying that the civilized races should exterminate the savage ones, and that evolution will result to the extinction of the negro race. But as with misquotations, this paragraph is taken out of context. Darwin’s point is that breaks are formed by extinction, and his theory of missing link is once again brought up. It is clear to those who study his writings that his theory specified that all human races must be equally evolved.

Did he view women as a lower class? In the same book, Darwin wrote:

“The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman – whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands. If two lists were made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, painting, sculpture, music (inclusive both of composition and performance), history, science, and philosophy, with half-a-dozen names under each subject, the two lists would not bear comparison.”

Considering that Darwin lived in the 19th century Victorian Era, it is not surprising that he thought women were a weaker species. That does not make it right, but he had the same mindset of those in his time – that men are larger, stronger and better than women. Almost everyone in that age, after all, would be considered as sexist and racist in today’s standards. You can visit this website to learn more about women’s status during the Victorian era.

Darwin’s works can be read and misread, which might also be because he didn’t feel the need to explain every concept of his work. His terms aren’t as distinct from each other, which might give some students the feel that he uses his terms interchangeably.

Articles like these will continue to bombard your web feed and will always make you question history as you know it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing of course. If all the accessible research methods in the modern world can teach us one thing, it is that we should not accept a serious-sounding fact to be immediately true. Question everything, and know that science is always evolving. After all, at one point in history, scientists thought the world was flat and ships going to sail on uncharted waters might sail off the edge.

You don’t need to wait for anyone to write concise articles about topics you want to learn about – you can easily do your search on websites and watch science TV shows. With a stable Internet connection, a colossal amount of information is at your hands. Having problem with faulty Internet? Contact the Xfinity Phone number found in this page and talk to any available customer representative to solve any connection issues immediately.

 

How To Relax Methodically And Effectively

September 24, 2014 at 3:26 pm

relaxmeditateNo matter how busy your daily schedule may get, you should always make it a point to give yourself time to relax and rejuvenate. Relaxation along with proper amounts of sleep keeps your body refreshed, in tune, and ready to face the responsibilities and tasks throughout the week. People have different ways of relaxing, mostly related to their personal interests and preferences. However you like to unwind and take your mind off of the daily grind, it should be a systematic process that really allows your mind and body to recuperate.

A lot of people think that when they plop down in front of the television at the end of the day, they are already relaxing. However, this is often not enough relaxation for the average person, and in fact there are many known negative effects of watching TV as elaborated here. A lot of TV shows or movies are not even that relaxing. When you think about it, programs or films with violent or scary content don’t really do much to calm your nerves or soothe your senses. What you can do is to select entertainment choices that are pleasant and relaxing by looking at the information provided on the website for Charter On Demand Movies.

The right relaxation method will help regain the balance in your nervous system and keep stress levels down, allowing your body to recover properly. One of the most basic techniques is deep breathing meditation. This exercise is easy to do and can be practiced anywhere. Proper breathing exercises focus on the intake of fresh air into your lungs through full, cleansing, and relaxing breaths. You should have a spacious, comfortable area in your house where you can do some breathing exercises. This can also be combined with aromatherapy or some light, positive music.

In a very similar way, yoga and meditation are also great relaxation techniques that do not require much equipment or space but do much to lower your stress levels and refocus your mind. If you have never tried yoga before, you can purchase DVD tutorials or manuals, or even join a class in your area for a few sessions until you are familiar with it and can do it on your own. Meditation, meanwhile, requires a quiet and dedicated space in your residence where you can simply empty your thoughts and find your center.

Relieving muscle tension and body pain are also very important in your relaxation efforts. Massage therapy is one way to relax your tired muscles and joints. It has been said that an hour of massage therapy has the same refreshing effect on your body as eight hours of sleep. There are different types of massage therapy, and you can choose a style that helps to relieve body aches and relax your mind. You can also look into progressive muscle relaxation. This technique has been known to help with back pain, spasms, or injuries. Ask your physician about progressive muscle relaxation methods.

Relaxation also comes in the way of exercise. Physical activity releases happy hormones and feel-good chemicals in your body. You can read more about how exercise releases endorphins and how these hormones leads to a feeling of happiness in this informative article. If you are not into working out at the gym, remember that exercise can also be achieved by playing sports, or outdoor activities such as biking, walking, hiking, wall climbing, or swimming. Pick an activity that you enjoy, and make it a part of your routine. Make it even more relaxing and enjoyable by linking up with other family members or friends so it also becomes a time for social interaction.

How to Avoid Gaining Weight During Holidays

September 17, 2014 at 6:08 pm

xmasfoodThis is indeed the season to be merry… and fat. December is fast approaching and a lot of people are excited. All of us are familiar with endless selections of food available during holidays. We receive a ton of invitations to holiday parties here and there. They’re great for relaxing, catching up with long-lost friends, spending time with people you actually want to be around with, and digging in the feast provided. Not only are these food delicious, they are also extremely unhealthy.

So it isn’t exactly a surprise when spring comes and we find that we’ve gained weight over the holiday season. It isn’t awful to add a couple of pounds, of course, but most people don’t actually lose the weight they gain during the holidays. It ends up being part of what people accept as their normal weight, and then the next holiday comes and we add a couple more pounds. Before we know it, a few years have passed and we’ve come so far from the body we used to have.

Here are some tips to enjoy the holiday season without carrying all that extra weight:

 

1. Eat in moderation
We don’t need to avoid the food altogether. After all, we need the energy to eat and there are some culinary delights that will only be available during the season. So go ahead and try the stuff, but don’t finish a whole plate of Christmas cookies. Denying yourself the food would lead to disastrous results such as intense cravings and the like, so let yourself enjoy the taste, but eat only in moderation. If you can, drink water before eating to help you feel full and lessen actual intake.

 

2. Select your food
As we go from one party to the next, we usually end up face to face with another buffet table with scrumptious treats. It’s the ultimate temptress, since you can just go back again and again, you won’t even realize you’ve eaten a lot already. So select the healthier food on the table. Go to the fruits and vegetable sections, rather than the fried and fatty tray.

Another tip is not to go to any party hungry. This way, you can actually focus on what you want to eat from the food laid out, rather than just munching on everything.

Also, before you say yes to the first Christmas dinner invitation you receive, try to learn how to make a dairy free protein shake first. There are a lot of types of protein shakes but generally a dairy free protein powder shake recipe is the way to go since it will ensure that you get the nutrients you need amidst all the extra food intake.

 

 

3. Weigh yourself
Try this at least twice a week. Watch your food intake in every meal and make yourself aware of the difference in your eating habits. If you monitor yourself and ask the right questions about your lifestyle, you’ll find yourself prioritizing your health, and maybe think first before getting that third cup of eggnog or that box of chocolates.

 

exercisexmas4. Exercise
The best way to lose all the weight, ultimately, is to get moving. Turning your fat into muscle is one way to make sure you don’t gain that holiday weight. You’re sure to increase the food you eat, so the intensity of your workouts should level up as well. The best time to move is early in the morning – it makes the rest of your day more awesome.

The Psychology Of Coupons

September 13, 2014 at 4:29 am

coupons.jpgCoupons have become a mainstream option for consumers everywhere. While discount coupons and deals have always been around, their transition to the Internet and online retail sites have made them even more accessible to customers looking for great deals and bargains. In the past, coupons had to be clipped from newspapers, magazines, and other publications, or obtained from catalogs or mailed flyers. But now, you can easily browse for coupons on the Web and use them online or in-store.

What is the appeal of coupons anyway? Historically, consumers have always loved bargains, and coupons make consumers feel like they are saving on their purchases. Some discounts are big, some are too insignificant, but it does not really matter all that much when you are using a coupon or promo code for your purchase. All that matters is that you feel like you are saving money.

Coupons also give shoppers a sense of exclusivity and being an insider. Many retailers and manufacturers use coupons to give loyal shoppers access to deals, items, products, or services that are not available to the general public. The feeling of being given access to a secret purchase or deal is too attractive for many consumers to pass up. People like to feel like they are part of an inner circle or group, and coupons certainly cater to this feeling.

After the recession, many people have become more conscious of their spending and are trying to be as resourceful as possible. Many coupons and online promo codes certainly provide savings especially for bundled services or products. Even just a couple dollars off of a purchase over a period of time translates to a significant amount which can be used for other important expenses, so coupons certainly have their part in helping consumers who want to save more money.

Another reason why coupons are popular these days is they have become very accessible through technology. You no longer have to bring a stack of coupons with you when you shop at your favorite store or eat at your favorite restaurant. Your coupon can be saved on your smartphone or tablet. There are also establishments or retailers where you can arrange your coupon savings ahead of time online, so all you have to do is show up and the savings are automatically applied to your purchase.

Popular coupons such as Tires Plus coupons found here combine different services or products that are beneficial to customers in order to deliver the most value. The best coupons are those that not only offer the consumers savings on popular items, but also the chance to try newer offerings at a lower cost. This also allows customers to get the most bang for their buck through bundled value products and services.

In order to get the most from coupons, you should bookmark several reliable coupon sites on the Web and regularly check on updates. Many coupons are available for a period of time (month-long validity is the norm), and then new deals or promos may be available the next month. You can also go directly to the web site of the retailer or establishment and see if they also offer printable or downloadable coupons on the site itself. Of course, always read the terms and instructions so you know the information about using the coupons for your purchases.

How To Stay Mentally Healthy When You’re 60

September 10, 2014 at 1:50 am

seniors_healthMany seniors give importance to their physical health as they grow older, and while this is definitely advisable, it is also important for older folks to maintain and take care of their mental health. With your mental health at its optimum and in a healthy, normal state, you will be able to enjoy your golden years even more, go places and experience things for the first time, and create memories with your family and friends.

Just like the body, the mind can also be trained and disciplined in order to be more efficient and continue working at its optimum level. As you grow older, there are simple lifestyle changes and habits you can incorporate into your daily activities in order to help with maintaining the healthy state of your mental well-being. You can start with managing and dealing with stress. Stress contributors are not always avoidable, but how you deal with stress determines its impact on you and your mental health.

The best way to deal with stress is to get to the root of the problem, and then look for ways to minimize or eliminate the reason. When you have less stress, the chances for anxiety and depression, two major mental health problems, also decrease significantly. Make changes to your daily schedule to allow yourself ample time in between tasks, and look for more efficient processes that allow you to be productive without being too burned out.

Maintaining constant interaction and communication with your loved ones and friends is also vital in maintaining your mental stability. Being able to talk it out with your trusted circle will allow you to share what is on your mind, how you are feeling, and anything you are experiencing whether good or bad. There is a lot of healing and therapeutic effects associated with intimate discussions and communication with a trusted friend or family member, so stay connected. If separated by distance, you can stay in touch with your loved ones using a mobile phone.  The best cell phone for seniors would often be the simplest but most reliable phone. Visit cell phone provider stores nearby and inquire about their device and plan packages. They would probably show you their best cell phone for seniors offers packaged with what they deemed as the most fitting plan for the phone.

seniorshealth_1Mental health can also be kept through regular physical exercise. Plan a fitness regimen that is appropriate for your state of health and physical capabilities. If you are not sure, speak with your physician or a fitness specialist regarding what regimen is best for you. Physical exercise will keep mental stress at bay, and will also release helpful hormones into your body circulation that naturally maintain the balance in your emotions and keep your mental faculties clear.

Ample rest and sleep are very important for the mind to take a break and rejuvenate itself. As you get older, make sure you are getting enough rest and that you are also taking a break every now and then. Whatever your activities are at this point, give yourself time to disconnect from it all by taking the day off or doing something different.

Good nutrition and excellent lifestyle habits also impact your mental health tremendously. Watch what you eat, and stay away from junk foods or those that are too high in fat and cholesterol. Fruits and vegetables, meanwhile, should be the staple in your diet. Not only are they good for your body, but they also keep the brain and the blood circulation running smoothly, contributing to your mental health.

How To Relax And Unwind More Effectively

September 7, 2014 at 3:34 pm

BeFunky_relax.jpgAt the end of a very long and busy day, or during the weekend when we do not have to go to work, we usually want to spend some time to relax and unwind. This allows us to refresh our mind, body, and soul, and also to do the things that we enjoy doing with our loved ones and friends. Relaxation and getting away from the monotony of daily life is a must if you want to keep yourself from getting burned out from all the responsibilities and tasks.

Because people are wired differently, we also have different preferences and tastes when it comes to how we relax. How one person chooses to enjoy his free time may not necessarily be how you want to spend yours. Some enjoy playing sports, and schedule pick-up games at local gyms or at the park. Others would rather attend concerts, plays, or other live performances. There are families who troop to the cinemas when they want to relax together, while others are perfectly okay with staying at home and having DVD marathon sessions.

How you relax and unwind should be catered to your needs as a person, and allow to rejuvenate and prepare for the next responsibilities. For instance, if you are a computer programmer or software engineer, you may not want to spend your free time watching television or playing video games anymore since most of your working day is spent sitting in front of the computer. Instead, what you should be doing to relax is balancing it out with some physical activity, such as hiking, swimming, jogging, or playing sports.

On the other hand, someone who works outside such as a landscaper or construction foreman may feel too physically tired at the end of the day to even think of playing tag football or frisbee with friends. Instead, relaxation for people with physically demanding jobs may mean sharing drinks with their peers or just watching television or movies at home. On the weekends, they may want to use a Jeep bikini top like these ones on their Jeep and take a leisurely drive to enjoy some nature and outdoors.

BeFunky_relax2.jpgHow you relax should allow you to get your thoughts away from the confines of your work. When the mind is given time to rest, it will be more ready to deal with new challenges again, in much the same way that our bodies need ample sleep so energy will be refreshed and ready for another day. As much as possible, disconnect yourself from work when you are on vacation or relaxing during your free time. Those responsibilities can wait, and what is more important for the meantime is giving your mind and body some much-needed rest. When you get back to your tasks, you will be more focused and energized, and effectivity will increase as well.

The best ways to relax are those that balance out what your overall body needs in order to stay healthy and well. However you choose to unwind and take a break, what you should not neglect is maintaining good nutrition. What we put in our bodies have a tremendous impact on how healthy we are, and how optimum our physical condition will be despite all the busyness of everyday life. Watching what you eat and ensuring that you are getting the right nourishment will keep you from getting sick also.

Asperger’s Syndrome: A Psychologist’s Insight

August 22, 2014 at 12:17 pm

AS1

Asperger’s, like ADHD, is a neurobiological disorder. It differs from ADHD in that it is a form of autism, or as the experts say, is on the autism spectrum. Conditions on the autism spectrum are characterized by difficulties in social functioning paired with high verbal intelligence and a tendency to have very narrow and focused interests.
Asperger’s syndrome (AS) was first identified by the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger (1906-80) who, in 1944, published a paper describing a pattern of behavior he had detected in a number of young boys who had normal intelligence and language skills but who also displayed marked deficiencies in social and communication skills. It was not until 1994, however, that AS was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a handbook that lists and categorizes mental disorders and provides practitioners with criteria for diagnosing them. If a condition is not listed in the DSM, it is not recognized as a mental disorder. Even so, it is only within the last several years that AS has been widely recognized by physicians and parents. Today, it is estimated that 400,000 Americans have AS.

SYMPTOMS OF ASPERGER’S

The DSM IV lists six criteria used to diagnose AS. They are:
1. Measurable impairment with social interaction.
2. Restricted, repetitive stereotyped behaviors and interests.
3. Significant impairment in areas of function.
4. No measurable delays in language and speech.
5. No significant delays in cognitive development, self-help skills, or adaptive behavior other than social functioning.
6. Other developmental disorders or schizophrenia do not better explain the symptoms.
In practice, people with AS may have a variety of symptoms, and the disorder can range from mild to severe. Many people with the syndrome dislike change and prefer stable routines. Many are obsessive about their routines and may be focused on a narrow set of interests. These interests may include areas that most people consider normal, such as music, or the weather, or snakes. Some people with AS, however, are fascinated with such seemingly odd or trivial things as train schedules, deep-fry cookers, or telegraph-pole insulators. People with AS are often extremely knowledgeable about these subjects and may talk at length about them without recognizing that other people are not quite as interested. Children with AS may have highly specialized, pedantic vocabularies; it was, in fact, this characteristic, combined with their extensive knowledge, that caused Asperger himself to dub his patients “little professors.”
Individuals with AS have difficulty in behaving appropriately in social situations. They miss nonverbal signals and crucial social cues and often cannot empathize with others or understand complex emotions. They may also be unable to imagine how their own behavior looks to others. Many have trouble recognizing faces. Several studies confirm that the brains of people with AS react quite differently from those of normal individuals to tasks that involve mentalizing—intuiting other people’s mental states from behavior or facial expressions.

Fact Or Fiction?

“I have heard that people with Asperger’s can be very violent. There have been several recent high-profile cases in which young men with Asperger’s have committed murder.”

AS_2
The Facts: While there have been instances in which people with Asperger’s have become violent, violence is not commonly associated with the syndrome. Usually, any violent behavior on the part of a young person with a neurobiological condition stems from frustration and the inability to control impulses. Research demonstrates that three of five teens with Asperger’s say they were bullied at school, and their parents report that they are frequently teased. When they are extremely frustrated, people with Asperger’s can be disruptive, but they are seldom violent.
People with AS may seem naive and lacking in common sense, and some may have learning disabilities in reading, writing, or, most commonly, math. Some people with AS may be unusually sensitive to sensory stimuli and may be bothered by sounds or light levels that no one else notices. People with AS may also have gross motor deficits and may be seen as clumsy or awkward.

Asperger’s in Girls

For every 10 boys diagnosed with AS, only one girl is identified with the condition. Researchers believe that the real ratio should be more like four to one, as it is in autism, and they speculate that girls go undiagnosed because of basic gender differences and social expectations of girls. While boys with AS may be interested in science, chess—or telegraph poles—girls may be obsessed with animals (especially horses) and classic literature. Neither of these interests is likely to alert parents to a potential problem, since many girls who do not have Asperger’s love horses and reading. The difference is in the degree of the obsession and the depth of focus.
Researchers also believe that girls are more able than boys to imitate socially acceptable behavior and may, therefore, not seem to be quite so socially awkward. Liane Holliday Willey, who has Asperger’s, entitled her autobiography Pretending to Be Normal—a title that could well apply to the life stories of many girls with the syndrome. Many boys are first diagnosed with AS because of aggression and other kinds of behavior problems. Girls, who are better at expressing their emotions and less inclined to act out aggressively, may slip under the diagnostic radar.
The Australian psychiatrist Tony Attwood, a leading expert on the syndrome, says that while boys with AS may be little professors, girls are more like little philosophers, wondering, for example, if everyone sees the color red in the same way.

TREATING ASPERGER’S

AS3
There is no medication to treat this condition, although AS is often associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression, both of which can be treated with a variety of medications. Because AS can differ so much from person to person, there is no one standard treatment. As with many such conditions, the younger the child is at diagnosis, the easier it is to make an impact with various forms of intervention. Social skills training is very important; because children with AS do not easily understand social cues, they must be taught acceptable responses to situations that other children might simply know by intuition.
AS4On the television sitcom The Big Bang Theory, the character of Sheldon is portrayed with many AS-like characteristics. When his neighbor Penny tries to persuade him to buy a gift for his roommate’s birthday, he demands to know why he should. She tries various explanations, all of which Sheldon rejects. She gives up until another friend whispers, “Try telling him it’s a non-optional social convention.” She does; this satisfies Sheldon’s need for a logical explanation, and he goes shopping with her. This is in some ways a model of the sort of training children with AS need—making explicit and rule-bound social conventions, which for most people are automatic. It is important to teach social skills to boys and girls separately, since their needs and deficits are so dissimilar.
People with AS who are overly sensitive to sound or light may benefit from sensory integration training, which is usually provided by an occupational therapist. This involves gradually exposing children to the offending stimuli in order to desensitize them. In addition many therapists employ a routine known as the Willbarger protocol to help treat children who have difficulties with sensory integration. Although the technique has not been validated by research, many occupational therapists report remarkable improvements using the protocol, which involves a sort of deep massage using a surgical brush and compressions to various joints and the sternum.
As children with AS grow older, and especially through their teenage years, psychotherapy and/or cognitive-behavioral therapy may be important to help with some of the scars that can come from being different. People with AS can suffer from depression and may be lonely, longing for more social contact, yet unsuccessful in making friends.

INTO THE FUTURE

What the future holds for young people with AS depends very much on the help and advice they get from friends, family, and teachers. Many successful adults who thought they had ADHD or OCD or were thought to be simply odd or eccentric have recently been diagnosed with AS, and their stories seem to have something in common: These people pursued their passions and found the right niche in life. Lars Perner, a professor of marketing at the University of Southern California and winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, was diagnosed with AS at the age of 32. He believes that his choice of profession has helped him. He said in a paper presented at the annual meeting of the Autism Society of America in 2002 that “As an academic, I have come into an environment where eccentric people, at least within reason, are tolerated and sometimes even admired,” and he notes that he gave up the idea of being a trial lawyer when he realized that he was not very good at “getting things ‘right’ on the first try.” His chosen profession does not require him to think on his feet and allows him time for revision and reflection.
Temple Grandin, who has been diagnosed as having high-functioning autism, is another remarkable success story. She transformed her love of animals and orderliness into a career in which she has become one of the world’s most distinguished designers of animal-handling facilities.

 

FURTHER READING

Attwood, Tony. The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2006.
—–, et al. Asperger’s and Girls. Arlington, Tex.: Future Horizons, 2006.
Griffiths, Jonathan, and Hugh Jones. Asperger Meets Girl: Happy Endings for Asperger Boys. London: Jessica Kingsley, 2008.
Liane, Holliday Willey. Pretending to Be Normal: Living with Asperger’s Syndrome. London: Jessica Kingsley, 1999.