Disorder is the term for a specific type of pervasive developmental
disorder which is characterized by problems in development
of social skills and behavior. In the past, many children
with Asperger's Disorder were diagnosed as having autism,
another of the pervasive developmental disorders, or other
disorders. While autism and Asperger's have certain similarities,
there are also important differences. For this reason, children
suspected of having these conditions require careful evaluation.
a child with Asperger's Disorder functions at a higher level
than the typical child with autism. For example, many children
with Asperger's Disorder have normal intelligence. While most
children with autism fail to develop language or have language
delays, children with Asperger's Disorder are usually using
words by the age of two, although their speech patterns may
be somewhat odd.
with Asperger's Disorder have difficulty interacting with
their peers. They tend to be loners and may display eccentric
behaviors. A child with Asperger's, for example, may spend
hours each day preoccupied with counting cars passing on the
street or watching only the weather channel on television.
Coordination difficulties are also common with this disorder.
These children often have special educational needs.
the cause of Asperger's Disorder is not yet known, current
research suggests that a tendency toward the condition may
run in families. Children with Asperger's Disorder are also
at risk for other psychiatric problems including depression,
attention deficit disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive
and adolescent psychiatrists have the training and expertise
to evaluate pervasive developmental disorders like autism
and Asperger's Disorder. They can also work with families
to design appropriate and effective treatment programs. Currently,
the most effective treatment involves a combination of psychotherapy,
special education, behavior modification, and support for
families. Some children with Asperger's Disorder will also
benefit from medication.
for children with Asperger's Disorder is generally more promising
than for those with autism. Due to their higher level of intellectual
functioning, many of these children successfully finish high
school and attend college. Although problems with social interaction
and awareness persist, they can also develop lasting relationships
with family and friends.
Facts for Families #4 "The Depressed Child," #6 "Children
Who Can't Pay Attention," #11 "The Autistic Child," #23 "Mental
Retardation," #16 "Learning Disabilities," #29 "Children's
Major Psychiatric Disorders," #49 "Schizophrenia in Children,"
and #60 "Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents."
# 69 Updated 8/99