Asperger’s disorder is a developmental disorder, which not a lot of people are familiar with. It was previously lumped in with autism but now it is known that the two disorders are not the same. The Essentials of Abnormal Psychology defines Asperger’s disorder as a developmental disorder characterized by impairments in social relationships and restricted or unusual behaviors but without the language delays seen in autism. Some researchers still think Asperger’s may be a milder form of autism as opposed to a separate disorder. The controversy over whether Asperger’s and autism should be separated is one that has been ongoing. Autism spectrum disorder is the favored term among clinicians. There hasn’t been a ton of research done on Asperger’s syndrome but it is suspected that there’s a possible genetic contribution. Asperger’s does appear to run in families. Until recently, individuals with Asperger’s disorder generally went undiagnosed. Currently, it is estimated that 1 to 2 per 10,000 people have Asperger’s. It also occurs more often in boys than in girls. Children with Asperger’s typically have normal or above-average intelligence, good verbal skills and a clear desire to establish social relationships but have severe problems in doing so. They’re often described as “little professors” because they can be stiff and formal when talking and they can go on for long periods of time about a particular subject that they’re obsessed with. Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician with a special interest in exceptional children, was the first to describe Asperger’s in a report he published in a German psychiatric journal that was called “The Autistic Psychopathies of Childhood” in 1944. The article wasn’t translated to English until 1991. In the early 1980’s, Lorna Wing separated Asperger’s from autism and placed an emphasis on the unique and limited interests that individuals with Asperger’s display. Individuals with Asperger’s disorder have a
References: Durand, V. M. & Barlow, D. (2010). Essentials of Abnormal Psychology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Holliday Willey, L. (1999). Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger’s Syndrome. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
Schilling, S. & Schilling, C. (2010). The Best Kind of Difference: Our Family’s Journey with Asperger’s Syndrome. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers.
Sigelman, C. & Rider, E. (2012). Life-Span: Human Development. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.