Monday, August 29, 2005

Explaining Aspergers...Again

One would think that I have the diagnostic criteria for AS committed to memory by now. Nope. With the new school year finally underway, I realized this morning that I have a new teacher to brief about SmallBoy. For the most part, everyone in the school is familiar with him and knows what's what and how to and why for, but it becomes necessary to refamilarize everyone with him from the get go. Therefore, before I begin MY homework for tonight, I thought it best to brush up on symptoms, etc, so that I can arm the teachers with the proper knowledge. In my preparation, I came across another extremely helpful website, for the Asperger Syndrome Education Network, which I will reference for SmallBoy's teachers and which I will add to my blogroll for anyone who may need sources. From this site, I took the following information that pretty much sums up SmallBoy, in a nutshell, as well as covers the scope of AS - and the best part is, it's SHORT (ish)! If you know my SmallBoy, you'll be able to pick out which characteristics he demostrates the most.

WHAT IS ASPERGER SYNDROME? Asperger Syndrome (AS) is a neurobiological disorder on the higher-functioning end of the autism spectrum. An individual’s symptoms can range from mild to severe. While sharing many of the same characteristics as other Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD's) including Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA), AS has been recognized as a distinct medical diagnosis in Europe for almost 60 years, but has only been included in the U.S. medical diagnostic manual since 1994 (“Asperger's Disorder” in the DSM-IV).

Individuals with AS and related disorders exhibit serious deficiencies in social and communication skills. Their IQ’s are typically in the normal to very superior range. They are usually educated in the mainstream, but most require special education services. Because of their naivete, those with AS are often viewed by their peers as “odd” and are frequently a target for bullying and teasing. They desire to fit in socially and have friends, but have a great deal of difficulty making effective social connections. Many of them are at risk for developing mood disorders (anxiety, depression), especially in adolescence. Diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders should be made by a medical expert to rule out other possible diagnoses and to discuss interventions.


Each person is different. An individual might have all or only some of the described behaviors to have a diagnosis of AS.

  • Marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as: eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction
  • Extreme difficulty in developing age-appropriate peer relationships (e.g. AS children may be more comfortable with adults than with other children)
  • Inflexible adherence to routines; perseveration
  • Fascination with maps, globes, and routes
  • Superior rote memory
  • Preoccupation with a particular subject to the exclusion of all others; amasses many related facts
  • Difficulty judging personal space; motor clumsiness
  • Sensitivity to the environment—loud noises, clothing and food textures, and odors
  • Speech and language skills impaired in the area of semantics, pragmatics, and prosody (volume, intonation, inflection, and rhythm)
  • Difficulty understanding others’ feelings
  • Pedantic, formal style of speaking; often called “little professor;” verbose
  • Extreme difficulty reading/interpreting social cues
  • Socially and emotionally inappropriate responses
  • Literal interpretation of language; difficulty comprehending implied meanings
  • Extensive vocabulary; reading commences at an early age (hyperlexia)
  • Stereotyped or repetitive motor mannerisms
  • Difficulty with “give and take” of conversation I must make a clarification on the hyperlexia - it is not necessarily reading at an early age as much as it is reading higher than age/grade level and not having the comprehension skills to understand what is being read.

No comments: