What is Aspergers Syndrome?


Asperger’s Disorder is a milder variant of Autistic Disorder.  Both Asperger’s Disorder and autistic disorder are in fact subgroups of a larger diagnostic category.  This larger category is called either Autistic Spectrum Disorders, mostly in European countries, or Pervasive Developmental Disorders (“PDD”), in the United States.  In Asperger’s Disorder, affected individuals are characterized by social isolation and eccentric behavior in childhood. There are impairments in two-sided social interaction and non-verbal communication. Though grammatical, their speech is peculiar due to abnormalities of inflection and a repetitive pattern. Clumsiness is prominent both in their articulation and gross motor behavior. They usually have a circumscribed area of interest which usually leaves no space for more age appropriate, common interests. Some examples are cars, trains, French Literature, door knobs, hinges, cappucino, meteorology, astronomy or history.  The name “Asperger” comes from Hans Asperger, an Austrian physician who first described the syndrome in 1944.

By definition, those with AS have a normal IQ and many individuals (although not all), exhibit exceptional skill or talent in a specific area. Because of their high degree of functionality and their naiveté, those with Aspergers are often viewed as eccentric or odd and can easily become victims of teasing and bullying. While language development seems, on the surface, normal, individuals with AS often have deficits in pragmatics and prosody. Vocabularies may be extraordinarily rich and some children sound like “little professors.” However, persons with AS can be extremely literal and have difficulty using language in a social context.