Asperger’s Syndrome

People today are becoming more aware of a syndrome that is called Asperger.  Named after a German man Hans Asperger, it is a high functioning type of Autism.  The CDC estimates that 1 in 110 children in America are born with Autism, this is a whoping 1% of the us population.  Aspergers Syndrome is seen more frequeintly in boys than in girls.
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV, 1994) as well as the International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition (ICD10) (3) & (15), Asperger’s Syndrome is characterized by an:

  • Impairment of social interaction
  • Impairment of social communication
  • Impairment of social imagination, flexible thinking and imaginative play
  • Absence of a significant delay in cognitive development
  • Absence of general delay in language development

So what is Asperger’s syndrome?

As  mentioned, asperger is a form of  autism, or more specifically “Autism Spectrum Disorder” (ASD).  This is a neurological condition that causes an impairment of  language and communication skills, as well as repetitive thinking and habits.

Parents usually sense there is something unusual about their child by the time of his or her third birthday. Unlike children with autism, children with aspergers don’t loose their early language skills.  The first indicators of the disorder are usually certain “Motor development delays” – crawling or walking late, or more commonly, clumsiness.

What are the most common signs or symptoms?

The most common sign is a child’s obsessive interest in a single object or a particular topic!  Children can become experts on trains, makes and models of cars, or sports statistics.  They want to know everything about their topic of interest and they are obsessed with that topic! Usually these children aren’t interested in talking about anything else.

Another common symptom is how they talk!  Speech therapists refer to their speech as “marked by a lack of rhythm, an odd inflection, or a monotone pitch.”

An aspergers child might lack the understanding to talk softly when entering a library or a movie theatre.  This is mainly because of their deficit in understanding social situations.  For instance,  they are not able to make normal conversation because of their  inappropriate or eccentric behavior, or by wanting to only to talk about one particular topic.

How is it diagnosed?

Most doctors rely on the presence of a core group of behaviors to alert them to the possibility of a diagnosis of Aspergers.   These are:

  • abnormal eye contact
  • aloofness
  • the failure to turn when called by name
  • the failure to use gestures to point or show
  • a lack of interactive play
  • a lack of interest in peers

Some of these behaviors may be apparent in the first few months of a child’s life, or they may appear later.  Problems in at least one of the areas of communication and socialization or repetitive, restricted behavior must be present before the age of 3.

Diagnosis is a two-stage process. 

  1. The first stage begins with developmental screening during a “well-child” check-up with a family doctor or pediatrician.
  2. The second stage is a comprehensive team evaluation to either rule in or rule out Aspergers.    This team generally includes a psychologist, neurologist, psychiatrist, speech therapist.

The comprehensive evaluation includes neurologic and genetic assessment, with in-depth cognitive and language testing to establish IQ and evaluate psychomotor function, verbal and non-verbal strengths and weaknesses, style of learning, and independent living skills.    An assessment of communication strengths and weaknesses includes evaluating non-verbal forms of communication (gaze and gestures); the use of non-literal language (metaphor, irony, absurdities, and humor); patterns of inflection, stress and volume modulation; pragmatics (turn-taking and sensitivity to verbal cues); and the content, clarity, and coherence of conversation.  The physician will look at the testing results and combine them with the child’s developmental history and current symptoms to make a diagnosis.

This article is  part of a series that I am writing on Aspergers Syndrome.  Additional articles include:

“Aspergers in Adolescence”

“What is social skills training?”

“Famous people with Aspergers” (you might be surprised!)

At Crossroads we are conducting a social group for adolescents with Asperger’s Syndrome as well as a concurrent parent group.  If interested you may sign up here on our web site.


7 thoughts on “Asperger’s Syndrome

  1. This is an excellent service to the community. Thank you for sharing and my payers is that your efforts will be greatly appreciated and effective. May God continue to smile on you all and even more on the lives that you have, are, and will touch.

    • Thanks Kenji for your kind words. Please pass this along to your friends and contacts. I want to get the word out! You can like us on facebook which will help me to share my message with more people.

  2. I’ve had therapists in State Hospitals tell me I have signs of Aspberger’s and for the last 3 years since I’ve been married I’ve tried to get an evaluation but all I get is a damn Bipolar diagnosis and tell me to take my antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and antipsycotic medication so I can become slowed down to the point I can’t think.
    My symptoms:
    -poor eye contact
    -rapid speech when i get nervous (which led to the bipolar)
    -impaired thinking and and speaking skills and learning slowly (many think I’m retarded)
    I get depressed & psychotic when I get stressed out and I just realized I get stressed out when dealing with people because they get frustrated with me because I pick up on stuff slow. they tell me to just take my medicine which doesn’t help me and only causes side effects. my wife thinks i’m chronically mentally ill or just manipulative and not really sick so she divorced me. my entire life is one big @#$%^&*!ing 3’s company episode. Sorry about the french. sometimes it helps to be expressive. 🙂
    self-examination and spiritual growth helped me to control my triggers but it cost me everything to get to this point. who can diagnose and what benefit would it be at this point in my life aside form support groups? Autism Treatment Center will do it but for $1500 and no insurance pays for that. so once again, if you don’t have money you’re virtually screwed. all everybody cares about is their bottom line rather than helping people anymore. that would be why i don’t major in business anymore. aside from the fact that it’s boring.
    I applied for SSDI but I probably wont’ get it since i don’t take medications so that leaves me to find work that i can handle since i have to work full-time to make it. maybe your agency can help me if it’ snot too expensive. i barely have income right now and hardly any prospects of finding a job with my car up for repossession. i have more peace and stability in my life but this is by far the worst trial i’ve ever been in and i don’t see it letting up anytime soon. i can’t get into a homelss shelter because they only give you 5 free days so if you have no income you’re screwed again. i fi lose my car i’m on the streets in the cold. and all the MHS wants to do is dope me up on not one drug but 3-4 which cause side effects/hormone imbalances which lead to that many more.
    i’m done,
    thank you,
    erwin wooten
    need a towel to clean that up? lol

    • Hi Erwin, I really hope you get this diagnosis sorted soon. I had the same probs with my son in UK. He was eventually diagnosed at 21, so I had been trying for 19 and a half years.
      Not sure how the system works in the U.S. bur over here, nagging continually at the doctor for a referrel eventually paid off. Change docs if you get no result/understanding from the one you with.
      Perhaps you could explain your disability to those trying to reposess your car, and tell them that you will go to the press if they do reposess…dunno, only a thought. I think over here it is illegal to clamp a car belonging to a disabled person, not sure about reposssessing.
      Perhaps you could get a load of friends/family to do a sponsored event, to raise money for a private diagnosis. Otherwise see if you can get help with a diagnosis through an Autism charity, they must exist there.
      Hope you have a good result.

  3. Pingback: New Autism Definition | Imageinme's Blog

  4. Pingback: The Birds The Bees & A Boy With Aspergers « A boy with Asperger's

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