Asperger’s Syndrome Defined

A little girl in a green shirt staring at the ground

Asperger’s Syndrome defined gives room and space for important aspects of what Asperger’s Syndrome is without narrowly only answering that question, “What is Asperger’s Syndrome”. In defining Asperger’s Syndrome it is important to broaden what that refers to and means in people’s lives. Those diagnosed with it and those who are loved ones of those diagnosed with it.

You may have already read on this site and many other sites including my own at Asperger Adults very similar and standard definitions of what Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is and what the traits of it are that once recognized make for the diagnosis of AS.

You will again, read those here as well. They are important and at the core of how AS is understood, however, they do mislead people into thinking that all people with AS are the same. That is not the case at all. They are relevant and need to be known. But, as equally as they need to be known, as an adult with Asperger’s Syndrome, myself, diagnosed in adulthood in 1998, as to how they do or do not apply to each individual with AS.

What is Asperger’s Syndrome (Officially and technically) at its core? The traits of AS are:

Diagnostic Criteria for 299.80 Asperger’s Disorder (From the DSM-IV):

“(I) Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

  • (A) marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction
  • (B) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
  • (C) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interest or achievements with other people, (e.g.. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
  • (D) lack of social or emotional reciprocity

(II) Restricted repetitive & stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

  • (A) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
  • (B) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
  • (C) stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g. hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
  • (D) persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

(III) The disturbance causes clinically significant impairments in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

(IV) There is no clinically significant general delay in language (E.G. single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)

(V) There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction) and curiosity about the environment in childhood.”

(VI) Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia.”

(Source: DSM-IV)

“Asperger syndrome (AS) is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), one of a distinct group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by social impairment, communication difficulties, and restrictive, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior. Other ASDs include autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS). ASDs are considered neurodevelopmental disorders and are present from infancy or early childhood. Although early diagnosis using standardized screening by age 2 is the goal, many with ASD are not detected until later because of limited social demands and support from parents and caregivers in early life.”

“The severity of communication and behavioral deficits, and the degree of disability, is variable in those affected by ASD. Some individuals with ASD are severely disabled and require very substantial support for basic activities of daily living. Asperger syndrome is considered by many to be the mildest form of ASD and is synonymous with the most highly functioning individuals with ASD.”

Two core features of autism are: a) social and communication deficits and b) fixated interests and repetitive behaviors. The social communication deficits in highly functioning persons with Asperger syndrome include lack of the normal back and forth conversation; lack of typical eye contact, body language, and facial expression; and trouble maintaining relationships. Fixated interests and repetitive behaviors include repetitive use of objects or phrases, stereotyped movements, and excessive attachment to routines, objects, or interests. Persons with ASD may also respond to sensory aspects of their environment with unusual indifference or excessive interest.”

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A.J. Mahari lives in Ontario, Canada. She is an Author, Speaker, Counselor, Life Coach, BPD/Loved Ones Coach, NPD/Loved Ones Coach, Mental Health Coach, and Self-Improvement Coach. She has been described by many as an insightful and astute student of life’s ups and downs. A.J. is a Mental Health Professional. A.J. writes from her own life experience, education and over 20 years of experience working with clients with Personality Disorders or the Loved Ones of those with them. You can purchase any of A.J.'s 35+ Ebooks or Written and Narrated 45+ Audio Programs or work with her as a your Counselor or Life Coach. She is a sexual abuse survivor and recovered from Borderline Personality Disorder many years ago. She is also an adult living with (“high functioning”) Asperger's Syndrome.

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