DSM-IV For Asperger’s Disorder Criteria Made Simple


A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

(1) marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviours such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction.
(2) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level.
(3) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (eg., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people).
(4) lack of social or emotional reciprocity.

B. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities as manifested by at least one of the following:

(1) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.
(2) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, non-functional routines or rituals.
(3) stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (eg.,hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
(4) persistent preoccupation with parts or objects.

C. The disturbance causes clinically significant general delay in language (eg., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years).

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

E. Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia.

The above is the criteria that is given in the DISM IV which is what doctors use to diagnose Asperger’s Disorder and other related disorders. I’m going to give a more informal description in hopes that parents can more easily decide if they should seek help. Although you may feel certain that your child exhibits all symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome only a doctor can actually give a diagnosis.

Asperger’s Disorder (also referred to as Asperger’s Syndrome) is often diagnosed when a child exhibits some of the characteristics of Autism but there is no delay in the development of language skills. Asperger’s kids often are very well spoken with large vocabularies.

One of the key characteristics of persons with Aspergers Disorder is their social impairment. They are unable to read social cues or body language. You could stare at the ceiling during the conversation and they would not catch on that you were not listening. There is also a problem understanding the give and take of a conversation. Asperger’s persons will talk at you not with you.

Many kids with Asperger’s Syndrome have few to no friends. This is not only because of their social impairment but also because of their very focused and narrow interests. They have no desire to talk about anything outside their own interest and are not interested in learning something new. Their interests are obsessive in nature.

Asperger’s kids need their lives to be routine and that routine must be adhered to. If there is a change especially a sudden one they are unable to cope. Spontaneity is not that that you find with persons suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome.

Asperger’s kids often perform repetitive physical movements. Examples are rocking back and forth even when standing and flapping of hands. They will mostly walk on their tip toes rather than flat foot. The repetitive movements are because these kids need self-stimulation (stimming as it is referred to). This can be turning a light switch on and off, flicking a pen or a form of visual stimulation is flicking something very close to their eyes. Whatever the movement it is a stimulation of one or more of their senses and can go on for hours on end.

The joke about giving your child a toy and them playing with the box, very well suits Asperger’s kids. They will become fixated on a part of an object and not the object in whole. If they were given a train set they may pick out a part of the tract rather than play with the entire train set. Sometimes the things they become fixated with can be very odd in nature, for example a shoe, a piece of clothing or a spoon.
Asperger’s kids can often come across as little professors they are so well spoken. Their language skills are developed at a very early age. Intelligence is rarely an attribute that is under developed in Asperger’s kids. This is definitely an asset and encouraging to parents. As children with Asperger’s Disorder mature their ability to control and manage the symptoms of their disorder improves greatly. With the new treatments available and if treated at an early age, these children can grow to lead very fulfilling and independent lives. Even though it is better at an early age you are never too old to seek help…everyone deserves quality of life.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

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