Asperger's Syndrome

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What is Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger's Syndrome, also known as Asperger's Disorder or Autistic Psychopathy, is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) characterized by severe and sustained impairment in social interaction, development of restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. These characteristics result in clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

In contrast to Autistic disorder (Autism), there are no clinically significant delays in language or cognition or self help skills or in adaptive behavior, other than social interaction.

Prevalence is limited but it appears to be more common in males. Onset is later than what is seen in Autism, or at least recognized later. A large number of children are diagnosed between the ages of 5 and 9. Motor delays, clumsiness, social interaction problems, and idiosyncratic behaviors are reported. Adults with Asperger's have trouble with empathy and modulation of social interaction - the disorder follows a continuous course and is usually lifelong.

Aspergers is not easily recognizable - in fact, many children are misdiagnosed with other neurological disorders such as Tourette's Syndrome or Autism. More frequently, children are misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit (and Hyperactivity) Disorders (ADD & ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Such mistakes in diagnosis lead to a delay in treatment of the disorder, though many pharmaceuticals and natural remedies are used to treat multiple neurological and pervasive developmental disorders. Remedies used today range from St. John's Wort tea to drugs such as Haldol and Ritalin. Treatments vary to a great degree with the individual patient - no single medication or remedy works for everyone - and AS cannot be completely cured.

Because it is so new and so difficult to diagnose, our society is ill-equipped to deal with the special educational needs of children afflicted with Asperger's.

Other Definitions of Asperger's

DSM IV Definition
From the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, p 77, here is the clinical definition and characteristics of Asperger's

A More Down-to-Earth Description by Lois Freisleben-Cook
From a post to the Usenet group bit.listerv.autism, a more "down to earth" definition.

Center for the Study of Autism
A symptom-by-symptom definition written by Stephen Edelson, Ph.D., for the Center for the Study of Autism in Portland, Oregon.

Autism Society of Ontario
A very detailed but easy to comprehend definition, highlighting specific characteristics of the disorder in plain English.


Internet Resources & Support Networks

AspergerInfo.com
AspergerInfo.com offers a safe place to ask questions, share experiences, and discuss treatments relating to Asperger Syndrome. As a community discussion board, AspergerInfo.com lets you share the information and the hope that will help others as they confront the challenges associated with Asperger Syndrome.
Asperger Programs and Intervention Mailing List (AIPL)
This mailing list, also available in digest form, is for professionals and support workers to discuss the topic of interventions and programs for people with Asperger Syndrome.

ASPEN - Asperger Syndrome Education Network of America, Inc.
ASPEN of America, Inc. is a NATIONAL organization based in Florida committed to providing support, education and advocacy for those with AS and related disorders. This group also has a HelpLine, (904) 745-6741.

On-line Asperger's Syndrome Information and Support (OASIS)
A collection of web resources on Asperger's Syndrome and related topics, maintained by Barb Kirby. An excellent collection, hosted by the University of Delaware! From this site you can join a moderated listserv e-mail support group for families of people with AS/PDD/Autism.

The Autism and Asperger's Syndrome Association
The Autism and Asberger's Syndrome Association believes the human, financial, and informational resources must be available to enable people with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome and their families to realize the benefits of life and opportunity. The Autism and Asperger's Syndrome Association will advocate among corporations, governmental bodies, higher education, and the public to achieve this end.

Autism, PDD, Hyperlexia, Asperger's: therapy and special education
Contents of ABA resources for recovery from the autistic disorders: autism, PDD, hyperlexia, and Asperger's Syndrome, including information on treatment and therapies (including behavioral intervention/behavior modification or "Lovaas therapy"), special education, early intervention, and disability resources.

Asperger's Association of New England
The Asperger's Association of New England (AANE), a new organization made up of individuals with Asperger's Syndrome, their family, friends and professionals, is dedicated to improving the quality of life for people with Asperger's and related conditions. Our mission is to foster awareness, respect, acceptance, and support for these individuals and their families.

ASPEN - Asperger Syndrome Education Network, New Jersey
Not affiliated with ASPEN of America, Inc., ASPEN of New Jersey is a non-profit organization providing information and support to families and those individuals affected with Asperger Syndrome, PDD-NOS, High Functioning Autism, and related disorders. ASPEN currently has 9 local chapters in New Jersey and members from communities in many adjoining states, including Pennsylvania, Connecticut and New York, as well as professional members who have joined ASPEN from all over the U.S. ASPEN'S Professional Advisory Board is made up of some ot the top professionals in the study of and interventions for Asperger Syndrome from all over the country.

The National Autistic Society (U.K.) NEW!
The National Autistic Society (NAS) is the UK's foremost charity for people with autistic spectrum disorders and their families, spearheading national and international initiatives and providing a strong voice for autism. The organisation works in many areas to help people with autism and Asperger syndrome live their lives with as much independence as possible.

Kathryn Kagan, Expressive Therapist
Based in Massachusetts, Kathryn helps emotionally challenged children appropriately express their emotions and reflect on their behavior -- thereby helping them to gain a voice and success in academic settings.

The Kennedy Krieger Institute

The Son-Rise Program for Families With Special Children
The Option Institute's Son-Rise Program is a workshop with follow-up support for families of children with AS and other behavioral disorders.

Yale University Child Study Center
Yale's Child Study Center is in the process of a study on Asperger's in conjunction with the Learning Disabilities Association of America. They also provide information on diagnosis guidelines and intervention information.

Asperger's Syndrome Support Network Home Page
Susan Jackel's Page from Australia

Asperger's Disorder Homepage
Kaan Ozbayrak,M.D.

The sound of music
A feature on Dateline NBC (December 27, 1998) brought to light the impact that music can have on children with autism and AS. One mother has written songs to get through to her son and teach him the social skills he cannot understand.

Center For Study of Autism Home Page
Stephen Edelson, PhD. This site contains information about all aspects of autism and related disorders and is too good to pass up!

University Students With Autism And Asperger's Syndrome
Site in the UK providing support and resources for university students with autistic spectrum conditions.

Asperger's Reading List

While the internet has long been the only source of information on AS for parents and educators, several good books have been published during the past few years. I have not read all of these; I simply post the titles that I am recommended by others, although the first book listed is EXCELLENT -- I highly recommend it, as do several parents and educators!!!

Asperger's Syndrome : A Guide for Parents and Professionals Tony Attwood, Lorna Wing. November 1997. Jessica Kingsley Pub; ISBN: 1853025771. (available at amazon.com)
Author Tony Attwood also has his own website, which includes articles, presentations, and research reports he has prepared on a number of AS-related topics.

Asperger Syndrome: A Guide for Educators and Parents. Richard L. Simpson, Brenda Smith Myles. December 1997. Pro Ed; ISBN: 0890797277. (available at amazon.com)

Autism and Asperger Syndrome. Uta Frith (ed.) January 1992. Cambridge Univ Pr (Pap Txt); ISBN: 052138608X. (available at amazon.com)

Asperger Syndrome: A Practical Guide for Teachers (Resource Materials for Teachers). Val Cumine, Julia Leach, Gill Stevenson, Burnley Stevenson. April 1998. David Fulton Pub; ISBN: 1853464996. (available at amazon.com)

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PDD, Aspergers Support by Amy L. Marr
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Last modified: Jan 26, 2006, 20:02 EST