| Home | Article Database | Resources | Tools & Just for Fun | Search HY |

Asperger Syndrome

What is Asperger Syndrome?

DESCRIPTION: Asperger syndrome (AS) is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by an inability to understand how to interact socially. Other features include clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements, social impairment with extreme egocentricity, limited interests and/or unusual preoccupations, repetitive routines or rituals, speech and language peculiarities, and non-verbal communication problems. Generally, children with AS have few facial expressions apart from anger or misery. Most have excellent rote memory and musical ability, and become intensely interested in one or two subjects (sometimes to the exclusion of other topics). They may talk at length about a favorite subject or repeat a word or phrase many times. Children with AS tend to be "in their own world" and preoccupied with their own agenda. The onset of AS commonly occurs after the age of 3. Some individuals who exhibit features of autism (a developmental brain disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication skills) but who have well-developed language skills may be diagnosed with AS.

Is there any treatment?

TREATMENT: There is no specific course of treatment or cure for AS. Treatment, which is symptomatic and rehabilitational, may include both psychosocial and psychopharmacological interventions such as psychotherapy, parent education and training, behavioral modification, social skills training, educational interventions, and/or medications including psychostimulants, mood stabilizers, beta blockers, neuroleptics, and tricyclic antidepressants.

What is the prognosis?

PROGNOSIS: Children with AS have a better outlook than those with other forms of pervasive developmental disorders, and are much more likely to grow up to be independently functioning adults. Nonetheless, in most cases, these individuals will continue to demonstrate, to some extent, subtle disturbances in social interactions. There is also an increased risk for development of psychosis (a mental disorder) and/or mood problems such as depression and anxiety in the later years.

What research is being done?

RESEARCH: The NINDS conducts and supports a broad range of research on developmental disorders including AS. The goals of these studies are to increase understanding of these disorders and to find ways to treat, prevent, and ultimately cure them.

Where can I find more information?

These articles, available from a medical library, are sources of in-depth information on AS:

Bishop, D. "Autism, Asperger's Syndrome and Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder: Where Are the Boundaries?" British Journal of Disorders of Communication, 24; 107-121 (1989).

Gillberg, C. "Asperger Syndrome in 23 Swedish Children." Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 31; 520-531 (1989).

Gillberg, C. "Outcome in Autism and Autistic-like Conditions." Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 30:3; 375-382 (May 1991).

Szatmari, P. "Asperger's Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Outcome." Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 14:1; 81-93 (1991).

Kerbeshian, J, et al. "Asperger's Syndrome: To Be or Not To Be?" British Journal of Psychiatry, 156; 721-725 (1990).

Additional information is available from the following organizations:

Asperger Syndrome Education Network, Inc. (ASPEN)
P.O. Box  2577
Jacksonville, FL  32203-2577
(904) 745-6741

Learning Disabilities Association of America
4156 Library Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15234-1349
(412) 341-1515
(412) 341-8077

Nat. Org. for Rare Disorders (NORD)
P.O. Box 8923
New Fairfield, CT 06812-1783
(203) 746-6518
(800) 999-6673

National Institute of Mental Health
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 7C02
Rockville, MD 20857-8030
(301) 443-4515

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Building 31, Room 2A32
Bethesda, MD 20892-2425
(301) 496-5133

Information provided by NIH.