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Asperger's syndrome


  • a developmental disorder which in DSM V will be included with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as it is difficult to distinguish from high-functioning autism (HFA)
  • the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger in 1944 studied and described children in his practice who:
    • lacked nonverbal communication skills
    • demonstrated limited empathy with their peers
    • and were physically clumsy
  • the term came into existence in 1981 and became a standardized diagnosis in the early 1990's which is distinguished by a pattern of symptoms rather than a single symptom.
  • prevalence of AS appears to be ~0.26 per 1,000 (~ 1/5th the prevalence of ASD)
  • behavior is usually apparent by age 5 or 6
  • it is characterized by:
    • qualitative impairment in social interaction
      • lack of demonstrated empathy is possibly the most dysfunctional aspect
      • lack of social or emotional reciprocity
      • impaired nonverbal behaviors in areas such as eye contact, facial expression, posture, and gesture
      • social awkwardness
    • stereotyped and restricted patterns of behavior, activities and interests
      • pursuit of specific and narrow areas of interest is one of the most striking features of AS
      • individuals with AS may collect volumes of detailed information on a relatively narrow topic such as weather data or star names, without necessarily having a genuine understanding of the broader topic
      • a lack of interest in fiction and a positive preference towards non-fiction is common among adults with AS
    • no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or general delay in language, however they often have specific language abnormailities such as:
      • verbosity
      • abrupt transitions
      • literal interpretations and miscomprehension of nuance
      • use of metaphor meaningful only to the speaker
      • auditory perception deficits
      • unusually pedantic, formal or idiosyncratic speech
      • oddities in loudness, pitch, intonation, prosody, and rhythm
  • individuals with AS often have excellent auditory and visual perception, and enhanced perception of small changes in patterns
  • may be delayed in acquiring skills requiring motor dexterity and may be poorly coordinated, or have an odd or bouncy gait or posture, poor handwriting, or problems with visual-motor integration
  • more likely to have sleep problems, including difficulty in falling asleep, frequent nocturnal awakenings, and early morning awakenings
  • they often have difficulty in identifying and describing one's emotion
  • most children improve as they mature to adulthood, but social and communication difficulties may persist


  • there appears to be genetic factors on the paternal side
aspergers.txt · Last modified: 2012/09/02 19:12 (external edit)