Excerpts from Your Adolescent on Asperger’s Disorder
In the past, children with Asperger's disorder were often diagnosed as having autism. While this disorder does share some characteristics with autism, there are some important distinctions.
In general, the child with Asperger’s disorder functions at a significantly higher cognitive and intellectual level than the typical child with autism. While about three‑quarters of children with autism test in the mentally retarded range, those with Asperger's disorder test in the normal range. Unlike the lack of language or, in milder cases, the severe language delay associated with autism, children with Asperger’s usually are using words by the age of two, although as they get older their speech patterns are often odd, their words spoken in a monotone. Similar traits are often found in family members.
Like the child with autism, one with Asperger’s disorder does not successfully interact with her peers. These children tend to be toners. They have little empathy for others and are highly egocentric, displaying eccentric behaviors, A child with Asperger's, for example, may spend hours each day preoccupied with counting can that travel past on the street or watching only the weather channel on television. Coordination difficulties, as well as speech delays, are also common with this disorder. Some research has shown Asperger’s disorder clustering in families.
The treatment and intervention for children with Asperger’s disorder follow the same general guidelines as those for children with autism. Children with Asperger’s disorder also have an increased vulnerability to psychiatric disorders such as mood disorders, schizophrenia, and obsessive‑compulsive disorder.
The outcome for children with Asperger’s disorder is generally more promising than for those with autism, probably because of their higher intellectual and communication abilities.
Facts for Families: