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Asperger's Disorder

Asperger's Disorder can be thought-of as a milder form of Autistic Disorder. The main difference is that in Asperger's Disorder there is no significant delay or impairment of language skills, and cognitive development also remains intact, meaning that these individuals do not suffer from mental retardation and, aside from the symptoms described below, they develop age-appropriate skills and behaviors.

To make the diagnosis of Asperger's Disorder, the individual must have at least 2 symptoms from category A, and at least 1 symptom from category B.

A - Impairments in social interactions:
  • Problems in using nonverbal forms of communication (ie. body language) that are a basic part of how people regulate social interactions.
    • This includes eye-to-eye gaze, facial expressions, body posture, and gestures.
  • A failure to develop age-appropriate peer relationships.
  • A lack of attempts to share enjoyment, interests and achievements with other people.
    • For example, the individual will seem to have little desire in wanting to show, bring, or point-out objects of interest to others.
  • A lack of social or emotional reciprocity.
    • For example, the individual will seem uninterested in joining activities with others and will tend to prefer solitary activities. When they do interact with other people, they may tend to relate to others more as objects than as people, seeing them as instrumental aids while being oblivious to their needs, feelings, or signs of distress.
B - Restricted repetitive and stereotyped behaviors, interests and activities:
  • An encompassing preoccupation with stereotyped and restricted interests that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.
    • For example, this can include collecting certain kinds of odd objects (eg. rocks, wires), amassing facts on very particular topics (eg. astronomy, meteorology), mimicking the actions of a television character, or ordering and lining up objects repetitively.
  • An inflexible adherence to very particular and nonfunctional routines or rituals.
    • This can include such things as taking exactly the same route to school everyday, eating foods of a certain color only, or making sure different foods on a plate don't touch. Individuals can become very distressed when these routines are challenged or disrupted.
  • Stereotyped and repetitive gestures and mannerisms.
    • This can include flapping and twisting movements of one's hands or fingers, body rocking and swaying, and odd postures such as walking on tiptoe.
  • Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects.
    • The individual may seem very fascinated with certain objects that move or spin, may enjoy collecting and dissecting electronics and machines, and may become very attached to certain objects like a string or rubber band.

By definition, these symptoms cause significant impairment in a person's ability to function in their life roles at school, work, and in family and intimate relationships.

Also, individuals should not be diagnosed with this condition if they meet diagnostic criteria for another Autism Spectrum Disorder or for Schizophrenia.

 

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Autistic Disorder

Rett's Disorder