An Autism Spectrum Disorder
Asperger syndrome (AS) is a neurobiological disorder that is part of a group of conditions called autism spectrum disorders. The term "autism spectrum" refers to a range of developmental disabilities that includes autism as well as other disorders with similar characteristics.
They are known as spectrum disorders because the symptoms of each can appear in different combinations and in varying degrees of severity: two children with the same diagnosis, though they may share certain patterns of behavior, can exhibit a wide range of skills and abilities.
As a result, general terms such as "low-functioning," "high-functioning," "autistic tendencies," "pervasive developmental disorder," and others are often used to describe children whose behaviors fall within the spectrum. Kids with AS share many of the same symptoms as those with "high-functioning autism."
It's estimated that more than 400,000 families are affected by AS. Because milder cases are being identified more frequently, the incidence appears to be increasing. However, like other autism spectrum disorders, AS is often difficult to diagnose and treat.
About Asperger Syndrome
The disorder is named after Hans Asperger, a Viennese pediatrician who, in 1940, first described a set of behavior patterns apparent in some of his patients, mostly males. Asperger noticed that although these boys had normal intelligence and language development, they had severely impaired social skills, were unable to communicate effectively with others, and had poor coordination.
According to the Asperger Syndrome Coalition of the United States, the onset of AS is later than what is typical in autism — or at least it is recognized later. Many kids are diagnosed after age 3, with most diagnosed between the ages of 5 and 9.
AS is characterized by poor social interactions, obsessions, odd speech patterns, and other peculiar mannerisms. Kids with AS often have few facial expressions and have difficulty reading the body language of others; they might engage in obsessive routines and display an unusual sensitivity to sensory stimuli (for example, they may be bothered by a light that no one else notices; they may cover their ears to block out sounds in the environment; or they might prefer to wear clothing made only of a certain material).