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RadKid.Org: Symptoms of Asperger Syndrome

Asperger Syndrome (also known as Asperger Disorder) is a relatively new category of developmental disorder, first recognized officially in the DSM in 1994.

Briefly, Asperger Syndrome is thought to be the mildest of a spectrum of developmental disorders known as autism. As with other conditions of autism, it is a neurological disorder of unknown cause. Children with Aspergers present with deviations in social skills, problems with communication, behavioral characteristics involving repetitive features, and a limited but intense range of interests. While children with AS have been spoken of as having ?a dash of autism,? it is not entirely clear that Aspergers is truly a form of autism, or whether it is related only in the similarities of signs and symptoms.

Since AS itself has a wide range of severity, less impaired children who might meet the criteria for that diagnosis are sometimes not diagnosed at all, or are misdiagnosed with ADHD or other emotional disturbances.

There are five children with Aspergers for every child who presents with classic autism, although some may not have been correctly diagnosed with the syndrome, so it is not a rare disorder at all. For reasons that are yet unknown, Aspergers is more common in boys than in girls. It appears to be associated with other types of disorders, including Tourette disorder, attention deficit problems, depression, and anxiety.










Last Modified on: Saturday, August 08, 2009

DSM-IV Criteria for a Diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome

  • Qualitative impairment in social interaction involving some or all of the following:
    • Impaired use of non-verbal behaviors to regulate social interaction.
    • Failure to develop age-appropriate peer relationships.
    • Lack of spontaneous interest in sharing experiences with others.
    • Lack of social and emotional reciprocity.
  • Restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities involving:
    • Preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest.
    • Inflexible adherence to specific non-functional routines or rituals.
    • Stereotyped or repetitive motor mannerisms, or preoccupation with parts of objects.

The most obvious characteristic of persons with Aspergers is their areas of special interest. Often, and very early in their life, these kids will demonstrate an obsessive interest in one specific area such as math or aspects of science or history, learning everything possible on the subject, dwelling on it even during free periods. Sometimes these areas of interest will change over time, replaced by new obsessions, but often the interests will continue through adulthood, even forming the basis for a career.

Another common trait of children with Aspergers Syndrome is the socialization deficit. This differs from the same characteristics seen in classic autism in that AS children are usually not as socially impaired as are children with autism. Once they get to school age, children with AS often express an interest in friends and are frustrated by their socialization difficulties.

While normal language skills are a characteristic separating AS from other forms of autism, there are differences in how children with Aspergers use language and how it is used by the unaffected population. The rote skills are strong, sometimes very strong, but their spoken language is often unusual. Sometimes the language sounds overly formal, slang is misused or not used at all, and things are often taken too literally, with major problems dealing with abstracts. Many children with Aspergers have problems understanding or appreciating humor, this in spite of the fact that they are likely to show an interest in jokes, particularly such things as puns and word games.

Although there is little solid information regarding the likely outcome of children with Aspergers, it does appear that, compared to other forms of autism, children with AS are much more likely to grow up to become functioning adults. While limitations continue, it is clear that AS does not preclude the potential for a more normal adult life. Typically, adults with AS will gravitate to a profession that relates to their own area of interest, sometimes becoming proficient. Success in adulthood appears to be closely related to intelligence.

* For additional information on Asperger?s syndrome, see the Asperger Syndrome Education Network. The above has been a synopsis of information found there.




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