Asperger’s Syndrome

The disorder previously known as ... Aspergers

What was Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger's Syndrome was a neurobiological disorder named after the Austrian psychiatrist Hans Asperger, who first documented the condition in 1944.

It was often described as a pervasive developmental dysfunction said to lie within the "high functioning end" of the autistic spectrum of disorders. At the SCDC we believe that an Asperger's diagnosis was a helpful distinction from the lower functioning people on the spectrum, and people who used to fall under the classification of Asperger's were better understood using this classification.

Whilst much knowledge and acceptance has occurred around the diagnosis of being "Aspie", it is our experience that patients with this diagnosis are now feeling dissatisfied that they are being classified with others who are some more functionally impaired.

Diagnostic criteria of Asperger's Syndrome (DMS-IV) (Now removed from the DSM-5)

Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

  1. Marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial
    expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
  2. failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
  3. a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
  4. lack of social or emotional reciprocity

Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested
by at least one of the following:

  1. encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that
    is abnormal either in intensity or focus
  2. apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
  3. stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex
    whole-body movements)
  4. persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other
important areas of functioning

There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2
years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)

There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-
appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than social interaction), and curiosity about the
environment in childhood

Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia

Treatment for Asperger's Disorder for Children

Because AS can present patterns of behaviors and problems that differ widely from child to child, there isn’t a “typical” or prescribed treatment regimen. However, the patient  may benefit from the following forms of treatment:

  • Parent education and training
  • Specific educational interventions for the child social skills training
  • Language therapy
  • Behavioural/cognitive therapy

Here at the Sydney Cognitive Development Centre we offer comprehensive case management for your child and all their care givers including doctors, schools, occupational therapists, speech therapists. We offer at our centre the following services:

  • Assessment of the cognitive, social and behavioural characteristics that underlie Asperger’s Syndrome- ruling out other diagnoses and making co-morbid diagnoses
  • Social skill training
  • Specific educational interventions by our special education teacher
  • Case conferencing with teachers, school counsellors, principals, and other health professionals
  • Psychological therapy to address issues with anxiety and difficulties coping with change

An effective treatment program builds on the child’s interests, offers a predictable schedule, teaches tasks as a series of simple steps, actively engages the child’s attention in highly structured activities, and provides regular reinforcement of behavior.

It’s important to know that there are many people who can provide support and treatment for your child. Finding the right program for your child is key, and getting help early is important.

Children with Asperger’s syndrome can and do experience great gains with the appropriate treatment and education.

Treatment for Asperger's Disorder for Adults

At the SCDC we offer a comprehensive program for adults with ASD. The majority of our patients need help with anxiety, coping with change and social skill management. We do a combination of therapies including cognitive behavioural therapy, behavioural therapy (including ACT) and social skill training.

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