This paper will focus on the distinctions between the symptoms of Asperger’s syndrome and depression symptoms in adolescents. Misdiagnosed children suffer silently, facing academic difficulties. A strategy for early detection, treatment and prevention of depression within the school setting is an effective approach for success.
The Differences Between the Two Disorders
Asperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder. The most notable characteristics are
social and communication difficulties. As an Asperger’s teen, the pressure of social acceptance is high. Establishing and maintaining friendships are formed in school. Failed attempts often lead to depression.
Depression is a serious mental illness that can manifest into physical illness as well. The earlier the diagnosis of depression, the quicker treatment can begin. The problem is that Asperger‘s and depression have mimicking traits which makes early depression diagnoses difficult. Given the amount of time adolescents spend with educators and school personnel, it makes the most sense that the school authorities know how to distinguish between the two.
The Cause for Alarm and Immediate Attention
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention stated that “as many as one in 88 children will be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder by age eight“ (Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2012). The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also said that “among high school students in the United states, 26.1% of those surveyed reported feeling sad or hopeless almost everyday for two or more weeks in row” (as cited in Abel & Erickson, 2013, p.283). The feelings of sadness and hopelessness are two of the most common symptoms of depression. However, according to Dopheide (2006) for six to eight years olds, the earliest signs of depression tend to be more “somatic“, or more physical complaining of illness and aches, “unexplained irritability“, and lack of pleasure in previously enjoyed activities. By age nine, low self-esteem is added to the already existing symptoms. By age 12, behavior problems occur and the depression becomes recognizable, having been left untreated for some four years.
Identifying the Problem
As previously stated, Asperger’s syndrome causes difficulty in communication, verbally and through body language. Social interaction is difficult because the Asperger’s adolescent does not possess the “ability to empathize and see others points of view“,…causing ”feelings of inadequacy, isolation and loneliness” (Aston, 2011, p.2) as the lack of communication puts a strain on forming and maintaining relationships.
Early detection of depression in Asperger’s is particularly challenging because “people with Asperger’s syndrome and high functioning autism have a higher risk of associated psychiatric disorder” (Kim, 2012, p.559), depression being one of them.
Communication is the building block to the formation and maintenance of any relationship. A depressed adolescent who...