Sunday, April 27, 2008

Asperger Syndrome

Asperger syndrome is a neurophysiologic disorder that was accepted in the psychiatric community in 1994. It was identified by Hans Asperger, an Austrian doctor, back in 1944. Asperger syndrome and autism are examples of pervasive developmental disorders, commonly referred to as PDD, or PDD or Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

The DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association) identifies PDD as "characterized by severe deficits and pervasive impairment in multiple areas of development, including impairment in reciprocal social interaction, impairment in communication, and the presence of stereotyped behavior, interests and activities."

Children diagnosed as Asperger's have marked social inadequacies, meaning they have difficulty understanding and reacting to others appropriately. They have difficulty picking up nonverbal social cues such as facial expression and body language. They often have trouble maintaining eye contact. Quite often they have difficulty judging personal space. Asperger's children may also have sensory integration issues, such as only wanting to eat certain foods or wear certain fabrics. They also have difficulty with change or transition. Aspergers children tend to have their own set of rules, which may not be our rules.

Children with Asperger's generally have average and above IQ scores. They want to be socially accepted, however, because they are socially nave and take things literally, they frequently get teased or bullied in school. It is difficult for them to make or maintain friends584hips. Their speech is sometimes characterized by repetition or abnormal inflections. Physical awkwardness is also common in Asperger's syndrome.

There is no specific medication to treat Asperger's, however, medication may be used to treat accompanying symptoms, such as anxiety, attention deficit, and obsessive- compulsiveness.

Carol Bottstein

Carol Bottstein is a school psychologist with 25 years of experience in special education.Visit Long Island Educational Corner at for interesting and informative articles regarding parenting, mental health, education, self-improvement and other relevant topics.

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