Asperger’s is a type of pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). “Asperger Syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger Disorder (AD), is an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests” (Wikipedia). Although it is not required for diagnosis, there may be physical, clumsiness and odd language patterns present as well. Doctors groups Asperger’s Syndrome with other conditions that are called autistic spectrum disorders or pervasive developmental disorders but Asperger’s is generally thought to be the milder end of the spectrum. Children with Asperger’s generally have normal intelligence and near-normal language development. A common problem these children might have is the inability to understand the intent behind another person’s words, actions, or behaviors. Social interactions are often confusing and overwhelming to them as a result.

How is it diagnosed?

It is usually a two step process. The first step is generally done by the family doctor or pediatrician. The second stage is a comprehensive evaluation by a psychologist, psychiatrist, neurologist, or perhaps speech therapist (if language is involved) and additional professionals who have expertise in diagnosing children with AS.

What are some of the symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome?

Children with Asperger’s Syndrome have difficulty interacting with others. Children with this condition have odd, repetitive movements such as hand wringing. Asperger’s children have rituals like getting dressed in a specific order, communication difficulties, very limited range of interests, coordination problems, lack of eye contact or reciprocal conversation, and tendency to discuss self rather than others. In general, children with Asperger’s typically exhibit a social awkwardness and often an all-absorbing interest in specific topics.

How is it treated?

It is important to build social skills and to teach Asperger Syndrome children the ability to read verbal and non-verbal cues as early as possible. The most widely used therapy is behavioral focusing on teaching skills to improve communication, reduce obsessive or repetitive routines and improve physical coordination. The treatment is designed to improve symptoms and function. Medications may be useful to treat anxiety, depression, hyperactivity and obsessive-compulsive (ritualistic) behaviors. Diagnosis and treatment have led to very positive outlooks for quality of life improvements of functions.