Children with Asperger's Syndrome

Children with Asperger's Syndrome

Characteristics/Learning Styles and Intervention Strategies

by Susan Stokes Autism Consultant

Introduction

Asperger's Syndrome was named for a Viennese psychiatrist, Hans Asperger. In 1944 Asperger published a paper in German describing a consistent pattern of abilities and behaviors that occurred primarily in boys. In the early 1980s Asperger's paper was translated into English, which resulted in international recognition for his work in this area (6).

In the 1990s, specific diagnostic criteria for Asperger's Syndrome were included in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV, 1994) as well as the International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition (ICD10) (3) & (15). In general, DSM-IV and ICD10 base their diagnostic criteria for Asperger's Syndrome on the following:

  • Impairment of social interaction
  • Impairment of social communication
  • Impairment of social imagination, flexible thinking and imaginative play
  • Absence of a significant delay in cognitive development
  • Absence of general delay in language development (in Wisconsin, the child may still have an impairment under the state eligibility criteria for speech & language)

Recent research establishes the prevalence of Asperger's Syndrome as approximately 1 in 300, affecting boys to girls with a ratio of 10:1 (6). Children with clinical (medical) diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome and who have been identified by schools as "children with disability" are typically found by the IEP Team conducting the evaluation to have an impairment in such areas as Autism, Speech/Language, or Other Health Impaired.

The general features and characteristics exhibited by children diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome are similar to the general features and characteristics exhibited by children who have been clinically diagnosed with Autism and are described as having "high functioning autism". For educational purposes, the remainder of this paper focuses on the child with Asperger's Syndrome who has been identified by the IEP Team as being a child with a disability. Much of the following information is also relevant for consideration in working with children identified as having autism and who are described as having "high functioning autism".

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