Clinical Issues: History, Definition, and Diagnostic Markers of Asperger Syndrome Asperger syndrome (AS) is one of the pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), which are a family of congenital conditions characterized by marked social impairment, communication difficulties, play and imagination deficits, and a range of repetitive behaviors or interests (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). The prototypical PDD is autism, which was first described ... Clinical Issues
Clinical Issues  |   October 01, 2003
Clinical Issues: History, Definition, and Diagnostic Markers of Asperger Syndrome
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Ami Klin
    Department of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, Yale Child Study Center, Yale University, New Haven CT
Article Information
Special Populations / Autism Spectrum / Clinical Issues
Clinical Issues   |   October 01, 2003
Clinical Issues: History, Definition, and Diagnostic Markers of Asperger Syndrome
SIG 1 Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, October 2003, Vol. 10, 2-4. doi:10.1044/lle10.3.2
SIG 1 Perspectives on Language Learning and Education, October 2003, Vol. 10, 2-4. doi:10.1044/lle10.3.2
Asperger syndrome (AS) is one of the pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), which are a family of congenital conditions characterized by marked social impairment, communication difficulties, play and imagination deficits, and a range of repetitive behaviors or interests (American Psychiatric Association, 2000). The prototypical PDD is autism, which was first described by Leo Kanner at Johns Hopkins in 1943  (Kanner, 1943). Volkmar, Klin, and Schultz (in press) report that autism occurs in 1 out of every 1,000 births, is a neurobiological disorder with a strong genetic component (a 2% to 5% recurrence rate in siblings, which is a 50 fold increase relative to the general population), and some, as yet tentative, biological markers involving brain structure (e.g., some individuals may have larger brains) and brain function (e.g., the typical brain specialization to recognize faces is not present). About 70% of individuals with autism have a degree of mental retardation, and the typical cognitive profile includes great variability of skills (e.g., usually higher level nonverbal problem-solving skills and lower level language and conceptual skills). Universally, there is a considerable discrepancy between cognitive potential (i.e., IQs) and the ability to meet the demands of everyday life (or adaptive skills). The diagnosis of autism is entirely behavioral, through clinical examination of a child’s history and current presentation in the areas of social, communicative, and play /imagination behaviors. In the past decade, there has been progress in research of the biological origins of autism, particularly in the areas of genetics and brain function, but there is no biological test as yet (e.g., through blood analysis) to identify individuals with this condition (Klin, Carter, & Sparrow, 1997).
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