What is Asperger's?
Asperger's is a developmental disorder affecting the ability to socialise and communicate. Children diagnosed with Asperger’s disorder don’t have intellectual disability. These children are often extremely knowledgeable about their favorite topics. They might have advanced language skills for their age and often start discussions. But they often miss social cues and misinterpret language. For example, they have difficulty understanding jokes, or they might take things too literally. And they usually don’t like change, preferring routines and rituals.
There are some brilliant people with aspergers, see the link to a huffingtonpost article "These 8 Inspiring People Will Change The Way You Think About Autism And Asperger's"
Temple Grandin is a famous animal scientist with Asperger's and was named one of TIME’s 100 most influential people. She wrote a really interesting article on what type of jobs are most suited to people with Aspeger's, read it here. The article was written nearly 20 years ago, so the jobs may be dated but the concepts about strengths are still relevant today.
The question you are probably asking yourself is that 'my child is gifted why should I label them? They will do just fine'.
The purpose of diagnosis is not about labels, it's about support. Think about how different your child's life would be if they could effectively interact at a social level with their peers. If they had strategies for some of the behaviors that they find difficult to control, how much easier would it be to parent them?
Listed below are some of the common questions.
What are the symptoms?
Listed are some of the characteristics in the three areas of concern, namely social interaction, communication and language, and repetitive or restricted behavoir:
- interact in an awkward and stilted way – for example, they might avoid eye contact while speaking, interpret things literally and will not understand sarcasm
- interact more easily with adults than with children
- they find it difficult to take the perspective of others
Communication and language
- be very verbal – for example, they might label everything in a room
- join words together at the usual developmental stage (around two years)
- communicate with others about their own interests
- use a flat or monotone voice
- answer questions, but not ask questions if the topic doesn’t interest them.
Repetitive or persistent behaviours
Children with Asperger’s disorder might:
- have restricted or obsessive interests that make them seem like ‘walking encyclopaedias’ about particular topics
- prefer routines and rules
- not respond well to change.
Diagnosis as the child becomes older is a little trickier, but watch this video about later diagnosis and how it may manifest itself.
How do you diagnose aspegers?
Aspergers is diagnosed according to a checklist in the Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, the DSM. In the past, the DSM categorised children with ASD as having Asperger’s disorder, autistic disorder or PDD-NOS.
The most recent edition of the Manual, DSM-5, was published in 2013. It changed the criteria used to diagnose children with ASD. DSM-5 combines the three categories into one, which is just called autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
If your child already has a diagnosis of autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome or PDD-NOS you can keep using these terms if you want to.
The process for diagnosis is outlined on our Autism Assessment page, see it here. If you don't want an assessment just yet or want to prepare for your trip to the GP or Paediatrician as you think something is not quite right with your child, we have the option of doing an Aperger's Screen.
What is covered in the screening?
The screening is used to help assess whether your child requires further investigation or can be used to support your up coming visit to your paediatrician. The session consists of gathering family history and background information and then observing the child in the areas of social interaction, communication and repetitive behaviors. The session is approximately 60 minutes in length. A one page summary report is sent to your nominated Medical Practitioner.
Who does the screening?
Our Psychologist, Cassandra, performs the screen with the child as well as the parent. Currently the screening is only available in Queensland.
What does it cost?
The total cost is $185 for the appointment and $80 for a summary letter to your GP. If your GP refers you may be entitled to a rebate if you are eligible for a Chronic Disease Management Plan (CDM). To learn more about eligibility for the plan click here