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Asperger Syndrome/High Functioning Autism in the Classroom
What Is Asperger Syndrome?

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What Is Asperger Syndrome?
Social and Communication Skills
Visual Strategies
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Adults with Asperger Syndrome
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Asperger Syndrome origin of name

A Viennese pediatrician named Hans Asperger wrote a paper in 1944 describing a group of boys with certain characteristics. The characteristic symptoms and problems in social relationships, communication, lack of imagination and need of routines he described became known as "Asperger Syndrome". Asperger noted that the symptoms and problems may change over time as the person "adjusts" to his surroundings, but the inate characteristics of Asperger Syndrome remain with a person for life.

It was not until 1994 that Asperger Syndrome was officially recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Prior to that time people with these characteristics were often diagnosed as High Functioning Autistic or determined to have an Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Even with the official recognition of the syndrome, many children continue to be misdiagnosed or remain undiagnosed. Since Asperger Syndrome is generally considered to be the highest functioning form of autism it is usually used interchangably with "high functioning autism" for this reason.

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What does Asperger Syndrome "look" like?

Physical characteristics of Asperger Syndrome

Unlike some other syndromes that are marked by certain physical characteristics, Asperger Syndrome does not have any unique physical differences. It is impossible to tell "just by looking" whether a person has Asperger Syndrome or not. Although there are many more males with Asperger Syndrome than females (ratio 10-1), this syndrome crosses all ethnic groups and cultures. Asperger Syndrome can be diagnosed at a fairly early age with some signs evident in infancy, but usually is not and symptoms are often attributed to other causes.

It is estimated that 20-25 people per 10,000 has Asperger Syndrome (Source: Steven Bauer MD, MPH)

Characteristics of Asperger Syndrome

Average or above average intelligence

Marked impairment in social skills

Anxiety due to social demands, fear of failure and environmental changes

Difficulties with use of social language

Rigid thinking with narrow range of interest

Often inattentive and easily distracted

No other cognitive skills delays

Often have tremendous potential but low coping skills

May have an inflexible adherence to routines and rituals

There may be "Splinter Skills" with an uneven balance between verbal and performance

High academic skills may exist in some areas

May be oblivious to grooming or dress style, preferring to wear what they like rather than what is "in".

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