In today’s society, Asperger’s Syndrome is being talked about, and seen, more than ever, from television shows, such as Parenthood, to magazine articles, and of course in the inclusive classroom. Throughout this paper we will be looking at where Asperger’s Syndrome originated, some of the characteristics and causes, as well as ways in which teachers and parents can better deal with a child that has Asperger’s Syndrome.
Asperger’s Syndrome is found under Autistic Spectrum Disorders which has certain determined types of developmental delays such as social interaction, communication, and stereotypic behavior. Under ASD you will also find disorders such as Rett’s Disorder, Childhood Disintegration Disorder, and pervasive Developmental Disorder (L.J. Baker, L.A. Welkowitz, 2005). So what is Asperger’s Syndrome? To answer this question we must go back to Austria in the early 1940’s where Hans Asperger was studying small groups of children who exhibited similar patterns of behavior which he termed Autistic Psychopathy (www.asperger-syndrome.me.uk/history.html). He observed qualitative impairments such as “delays in using and understanding nonverbal behavior, problems establishing peer relationships and deficits in social reciprocity…preoccupation with one narrow special interest area or parts or objects, rigidity (sticking with one set, sometimes dysfunctional routine), or repetitive, stereotyped movements (J.S. Safron &S.P. Safron, 2001; S.P. Safron, 2001). Even though his work was published in the 40’s it did not come light in the United States until 1981 when psychiatrist Lorna Wing popularized the term Asperger’s Syndrome in a publication, which later led to the naming of the syndrome. Today, the DSM-IV-TR has added additional characteristics to determining Asperger’s such as, motor clumsiness, variability in cognitive functioning, over activity and inattention, plus secondary emotional problems, pragmatics or the social use of language might be impaired (L.J. Baker, L.A. Welkowitz, 2005).
Few studies have been made in determining what causes Asperger’s, but it has been noted that it tends to run in families and can be diagnosed as early as the age of three (Asperger’s Syndrome-Topic Overview, Web MD). Because there has been such little research on Asperger’s there is confusion about what can actually be diagnosed as Asperger’s. According to the DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic Criteria for Asperger’s Disorder, doctors look for qualitative impairments in social interaction marked by at least two of the following: (1) marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction (2)Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level (3)A lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (4)lack of social or emotional reciprocity. They also look for restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following: (1)encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus (2)apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals (3)Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (4)persistent preoccupation with parts of objects. Doctors look at whether the disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning, as well as whether there is no clinically significant general delay in language, if there is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self help skills, adaptive behavior, and curiosity about the environment in childhood, and lastly, whether the criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia...
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