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The History of Diagnosing Asperger’s

Asperger’s Syndrome, also referred to as AS or simply Asperger’s, was named after an Austrian pediatrician named Hans Asperger, who first reported symptoms of the disorder in 1944. Dr. Asperger noted that while the intelligence of children with this condition was often normal to above-average, many failed to develop important communication and social skills, and displayed impaired motor skills. Dr. Asperger initially described the condition as “autistic psychopathy,” with its most profound symptom being social isolation. When referring to his patients, Dr. Asperger would endearingly call them “little professors” due to their eloquent speech patterns – a unique trait of AS. It has been hypothesized that Dr. Asperger himself exhibited some of the traits of the syndrome named after him, particularly social remoteness and talent in language.

Today, Asperger’s is regarded as a form of high-functioning autism, and is included in the scales of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and pervasive developmental disorders (PDD). Its treatment often includes behavioral therapy to improve communication skills and empathy, temper obsessive and repetitive routines, and develop more coordinated motor skills. Aside from its common characteristics, there is no clear pathology common to individuals with AS, and the factors that distinguish it from other disorders on the autism spectrum are still being discussed. However, with the aid of mental health professionals, parents are typically able to spot developing AS characteristics in their children as young as three years old, with the possibility of diagnosis by age four.

Dr. Michael Clatch, Psy. D
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