Asperger Syndrome/Asperger’s Disorder

ASPERGER SYNDROME/ASPERGER’S DISORDER

Asperger’s Disorder is one of the newest members of a family called Autism Spectrum Disorders, also known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDDs). Therefore, Asperger’s is considered a Pervasive Developmental Disorder as found in the DSM-IV. Asperger’s Disorder was added as a diagnosis to the DSM-IV in 1994.

Hans Asperger was an Austrian pediatrician and the Director of the University Children’s Clinic in Vienna. He spent most of his professional life in Vienna and published his studies predominantly in German. In 1944, Asperger described a condition he termed ‘autistic psychopathy’ after observing four children in his practice who had difficulty integrating socially. Although their intelligence appeared normal, the children lacked nonverbal communication skills, failed to demonstrate empathy with their peers and were physically clumsy.

Hans Asperger’s observations were published in German and were not widely known until 1981, when an English doctor named Lorna Wing published a series of case studies of children showing similar symptoms, which she called “Asperger’s” syndrome. Wing’s writings were widely published and popularized. Asperger’s became a distinct disease and diagnosis in 1992, when it was included in the tenth published edition of the World Health Organization’s diagnostic manual, International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10), and in 1994 it was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic reference book.

DIAGNOSTIC CRITERIA FOR 299.80 ASPERGER’S DISORDER

Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

  • Marked impairment 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.

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 of 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.

The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. There is no clinically significant general delay in:

  • Language (e.g., single words used by age two years, communicative phrases used by age three years).
  • Cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction) and curiosity about the environment in childhood.
  • Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia

COMMON TRAITS OF ASPERGER’S DISORDER

  • Wants to have friends but doesn’t know how to make them or keep them.
  • Sensory issues regarding sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste.
  • Concrete Thinking (black and white).
  • No significant delay in verbal communication. However, there can be differences in tempo, rhythm, volume and pitch.
  • Average to above average IQ.
  • Obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. Gathers enormous amounts of factual information about their favorite subject and will talk incessantly about it.

CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER’S MAY HAVE TROUBLE WITH:

  • Socializing with others.
  • Interpreting and expressing body language.
  • Impairment of non verbal behaviors such as eye contact and gestures.
  • Lack of social or emotional empathy.
  • Expecting others to understand what they think without telling them.
  • Talking incessantly about their interests.
  • Appearing to be fanatical / obsessed about their interests.
  • Changes in routine.
  • How to play with others and the unspoken rules of play.
  • Being overly reactive to sounds, lights, fabrics and food textures.
  • Inability to see another person’s perspective.
  • Failure generalize, perseverating thinking.