Remember those kids in school who just couldn’t relate to the other kids? The reason might be a neurological disorder. Meet a 15-year-old boy who has it, and a specialist who can explain what the syndrome is and what can be done about it.

Asperger Syndrome (AS) is a neurobiological disorder on the higher-functioning end of the autism spectrum. An individual’s symptoms can range from mild to severe. While sharing many of the same characteristics as Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA), AS has been recognized as a distinct medical diagnosis in Europe for almost 60 years, but has only been included in the U.S. medical diagnostic manual since 1994 (“Asperger’s Disorder” in the DSM-IV).

Individuals with AS and related disorders exhibit serious deficiencies in social and communication skills. Their IQs are typically in the normal to very superior range. They are usually educated in the mainstream, but most require special education services. Because of their naivete, those with AS are often viewed by their peers as “odd” and are frequently a target for bullying and teasing. They desire to fit in socially and have friends, but have a great deal of difficulty making effective social connections. Many of them are at risk for developing mood disorders (anxiety, depression), especially in adolescence. Diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorders should be made by a medical expert to rule out other possible diagnoses and to discuss interventions.

Michelle Dunn, Ph.D.
Pediatric Neuropsychologist
Assistant Professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine


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