The DSM identifies Asperger's syndrome as an autism spectrum disorder marked by impaired social interactions, also known as high-functioning autism.
Asperger's syndrome (AS) is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) marked by impaired social interactions and limited repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. Individuals with ASD have symptoms that fall on a continuum—and since Asperger's syndrome is a part of ASD it is commonly believed that individuals with Asperger's syndrome are on the low end of the continuum (or high functioning ASD). This syndrome has no significant delays of language acquisition but motor skills may be delayed. Clumsiness and awkwardness may be present but are relatively mild.
It's conservatively estimated that two out of every 10,000 children have the disorder. Boys are three to four times more likely than girls to have AS, however, the ratio may be closer to two boys for every one girl—believed to be due to girls not seeking or needing diagnosis as often as boys.
Current research points to brain abnormalities as the cause of AS. Using advanced brain imaging techniques, scientists have revealed structural and functional differences in specific regions of the brains of normal versus AS children. These defects are most likely caused by the abnormal migration of embryonic cells during fetal development that affects brain structure and "wiring" and then goes on to affect the neural circuits that control thought and behavior.
Scientists have always known that there had to be a genetic component to AS and the other ASDs because of their tendency to run in families. Recent research indicates that there are most likely a common group of genes whose variations or deletions make an individual vulnerable to developing AS with varying severity and symptoms.
Treatment focuses on the three main symptoms: poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical clumsiness.
An effective treatment program builds on the child's interests, offers a predictable schedule, teaches tasks as a series of simple steps, actively engages the child's attention in highly structured activities, and provides regular reinforcement of behavior. This includes:
Last reviewed 02/06/2017