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Asperger's syndrome

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Asperger's Syndrome (AS) or Asperger's Disorder is a neurobiological disorder named for a Viennese physician, Hans Asperger, who described the syndrome in a 1944 paper

In a patient list of 5000, there is estimated to be between 18 and 24 people who have AS (1).

  • individuals with AS can exhibit a variety of characteristics and the disorder can range from mild to severe
    • persons with AS show marked deficiencies in social skills, have difficulties with transitions or changes and prefer sameness
      • often have obsessive routines and may be preoccupied with a particular subject of interest
      • have a great deal of difficulty reading nonverbal cues (body language) and very often the individual with AS has difficulty determining proper body space.
    • people with AS have a normal IQ and many individuals (although not all), exhibit exceptional skill or talent in a specific area.
    • although vocabularies may be extraordinarily rich, persons with AS can be extremely literal and have difficulty using language in a social context
    • presently described as an autism spectrum disorder
      • some clinicians feel that AS is the same as High Functioning Autism (HFA), while others feel that it is better described as a Nonverbal Learning Disability (NLD)
      • AS shares many of the characteristics of PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder; Not otherwise specified), HFA, and NLD
        • for example, it is not at all uncommon for a child who was initially diagnosed with attentiondeficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to be re-diagnosed with AS. In addition, some individuals who were originally diagnosed with HFA or PDD-NOS are now being given the AS diagnosis and many individuals have a dual diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome and HFA

DSM-IV Diagnostic Criteria Asperger's Disorder

  • A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
    • marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
    • failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
    • a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
    • lack of social or emotional reciprocity
  • B. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
    • encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
    • apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
    • stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
    • persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
  • C. The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
  • D. There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)
  • E. T

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