Asperger Syndrome a mild form of autism

Before you all cry out in horror at this subtitle, let me tell you that it was written with much sarcasm! Those of you parenting, teaching or caring for someone with Asperger Syndrome or with AS yourself will know only too well that the difficulties that come along with being 'differently wired' are far from mild. However, a simple definition is needed in order to explain the group of symptoms which, when found together, are called Asperger Syndrome. AS is a form ofautism, part of the autistic spectrum, an autistic spectrum disorder.. .call it what you will. Though it manifests itself in many ways, autism is autism.

As I have already written in Chapter 4 on autism, both autism and Asperger Syndrome are characterized by the triad of impairments in:

• social interaction

• communication

• imagination (Wing and Gould 1979).

Repetitive behaviours and obsessions along with the triad of impairments all blend together to produce the cocktail of characteristics we know as Asperger Syndrome. AS is a form of autism and therefore many of the difficulties and interventions I have outlined in the autism chapter also apply for AS. Again to save me going into too much detail as so many other books do so far better than I could, I have included the criteria for AS in the Appendices and I am not going to bore you here and detail exactly how difficulties in social interaction, communication and imagination can affect each person.

Many people ask what separates autism from AS and how does someone warrant a diagnosis of autism or high functioning autism (HFA), when another is diagnosed with AS? It seems to me that what sets autistic people apart from those with AS is the fact that people with AS usually start speaking at the developmentally appropriate age, whereas those with autism or HFA usually have an initial speech delay. Indeed as Ben becomes more and more able, I can envisage him being very similar to Luke (though a hyper version) but initially he could have been categorized more as a Kanners autistic child and didn't develop speech at all till nearing five years old. When he chatters away to me in his own little way, I recall the times not so long ago when he was in his own silent little world of flicking and lining things up, and know that his original diagnosis is accurate.

Autism

Autism

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