What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

aspergers diagnosis

Asperger’s Syndrome was first perceived by Dr Hans Asperger, a Viennese pediatrician, in 1944. He noted similar personality and conduct traits in children that were alluded to his clinical practice.

Asperger’s Syndrome is not a mental illness, but is actually a personality disorder, and in this manner, Dr. Asperger initially named the condition as Autistische Psychopaths in Kindersalter or autistic personality disorder.

The major noted traits of the children he worked with included:

  • Difficulty making friends
  • Impaired ability to read body language
  • Sensitivity to sounds, touch, smells, tastes, light, and textures
  • Need for assistance with day to day living
  • Trouble engaging in conversation
  • Avoids eye contact

Studies showed that children with Asperger’s Syndrome have an average to above average IQ and, with early intervention, were better able to form friendships and socialize with peers between the ages of 4 and 6 when contrasted with children with autism.

In order to receive service and support, an official diagnosis is necessary. While many people are diagnosed as children, a growing number are being diagnosed as adults. 

Many children and adults who have Asperger’s Syndrome also have other disorders such as ADHD (Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder), SPLD (Semantic Pragmatic Language Disorder), Tourette’s Syndrome, GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), dietary issues, or a NLD (non-verbal learning disability). 

Diagnosis

Acquiring a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome requires testing and observation. What’s more, there are potential difficulties in the diagnostic criteria used in the DSM-IV based on the age of the individual and different factors. Some of those difficulties include:

  • Female patients are harder to diagnose than males of the same age, due to their ability to mimic and cope in social situations. 
  • There are no official tests that can diagnose Asperger’s Syndome. Instead specialists will generally use a series of questionnaires and long interviews with the patient to determine if they fit the criteria.
  • Asperger’s Syndrome is categorized under the label of Autism Spectrum Disorder and is not no longer recognized as a separate disorder. 

Most of the diagnostic criteria used today was created by Christopher Gillberg. It was based on the list of criteria initially created by Dr. Asperger and addresses areas of trouble as well as areas of capacity that are specific to individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome.

The rate of diagnosis using the Gillberg questionnaire is around 1 in each 250 children. 

Children that are five years of age or more can be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome with “reasonable certainty”. Before this age, the signs and behaviors that are inside this spectrum may dissolve and cease to be an issue. A diagnosis before the age of five is in this way considered to be provisional.

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