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Default 04-10-2007, 08:15 AM

Aspergers Syndrome


Asperger syndrome also referred to as Asperger's syndrome, Asperger's disorder, Asperger's, or just AS is a pervasive developmental disorder related to autism. It manifests in individual ways and can have both positive and negative effects on a person. It is recognized by the medical community as one of five neurobiological pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) considered to be part of the autistic spectrum.

It is typically characterized by issues with social and communication skills. Due to the mixed nature of its effects, it remains controversial among researchers, physicians, and people who are diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome.

Asperger syndrome is not differentiated from other autistic spectrum disorders by a minority of clinicians and instead they refer to it as high functioning autism (HFA) in that early development is normal and there is no language delay and thus the symptoms differ only in degree from classic autism. Some people with AS do have learning disabilities; however, IQ tests may show normal or superior intelligence in diagnosed individuals.

The diagnosis of AS is complicated by the lack of a standardized diagnostic screen. Instead, several different screening instruments and sets of diagnostic criteria are used. AS is often not identified in early childhood, and many individuals are not diagnosed until they are adults. Assistance for core symptoms of AS consists of therapies that apply behavior management strategies and address poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical clumsiness.

Many individuals with AS can adopt strategies for coping and do lead fulfilling lives - being gainfully employed, having successful relationships, and having families. In most cases, they are aware of their differences and can recognize if they need any support to maintain an independent life.

Characteristics

AS is characterized by:
  • Narrow interests or preoccupation with a subject to the exclusion of other activities
  • Repetitive behaviors or rituals
  • Peculiarities in speech and language
  • Extensive logical/technical patterns of thought
  • Socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and interpersonal interaction
  • Problems with nonverbal communication
  • Clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements
The most common and important characteristics of AS can be divided into several broad categories: social impairments, narrow but intense interests, and peculiarities of speech and language. Other features are commonly associated with this syndrome, but are not always regarded as necessary for diagnosis. This section mainly reflects the views of Attwood, Gillberg, and Wing on the most important characteristics of AS; the DSM-IV criteria represent a slightly different view. Unlike most forms of PDDs, AS is often camouflaged, and many people with the disorder blend in with those who do not have it. The effects of AS depend on how an affected individual responds to the syndrome itself.


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