Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
Asperger disorder is characterized as one of the autism spectrum disorders.
People with Asperger's syndrome have normal to above-average intelligence but
typically have difficulties with social interactions and often have pervasive,
absorbing interests in special topics.
Abnormalities in the subtle use of language and interpretation of language
are common with Asperger's syndrome, although language development (grammar,
syntax, etc.) is normal.
The degree of severity of symptoms can vary among affected individuals.
Anxiety and frustration may contribute to disruptive behaviors or
depression in people with Asperger's syndrome.
Successful treatment generally involves one or multiple social, behavioral,
and/or educational interventions.
The personality and cognitive traits common to those with Asperger's syndrome
are seen as beneficial by many, and many people with Asperger's syndrome believe
it has helped advance their professional lives.
Asperger's syndrome, also known as Asperger disorder or Asperger syndrome, is one of a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that have effects on an individual's behavior, use of language and communication, and pattern of social interactions. Asperger disorder is characterized as one of the autism spectrum disorders (which also include autistic disorder, Rett disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified [PDD-NOS]), although Asperger's syndrome is considered to be at the milder, or higher-functioning, range of this spectrum. There is still some controversy as to whether Asperger's syndrome should be regarded as a separate clinical entity or simply represents a high-functioning form of autism. People with Asperger's syndrome have normal to above-average intelligence but typically have difficulties with social interactions and often have pervasive, absorbing interests in special topics.
Asperger's syndrome is named for Dr. Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician, who first described the condition in 1944. Dr. Asperger described four boys who showed "a lack of empathy, little ability to form friendships, one-sided conversation, intense absorption in a special interest, and clumsy movements." Because of their obsessive interests in and knowledge of particular subjects, he termed the boys "little professors." The American Psychiatric Association (APA) recognized Asperger disorder as a specific entity and published diagnostic criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV (DSM-IV) in 1994. Most recently, after significant deliberation, the APA recommended "subsuming" Asperger's Disorder into Autism Spectrum Disorders for the next edition DSM-V. However, there has been significant academic debate regarding this decision, and since this edition is not expected to be approved and published until 2013, there will be more debates on the matter.
Today, many experts in the field stress the particular gifts and positive aspects of Asperger syndrome and consider it to represent a different, but not necessarily defective, way of thinking. Positive characteristics of people with Asperger syndrome have been described as beneficial in many professions and include:
the increased ability to focus on details,
the capacity to persevere in
specific interests without being swayed by others' opinions,
the ability to work
the recognition of patterns that may be missed by others,
an original way of thinking.
Dr. Temple Grandin, a noted
engineer, author, and professor who suffers from Asperger disorder believes that
her condition has been an asset in her professional life. Her life and story was featured in a film that first aired in 2010.
Although the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome is not possible without direct
testing and observation of an individual, it has been suggested by some authors
that many successful historical figures may have had Asperger's syndrome,
including Mozart, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and
Marie Curie. Of course, definitive diagnosis of historical figures with Asperger's
syndrome is not possible, and many of the traits exhibited by people with
Asperger's syndrome can also occur because of intellectual giftedness or even
attention deficit disorder (ADD).
Reviewed by David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP on 3/8/2012
8 Tips for Parents of Kids with Asperger's Syndrome
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD Medical Editor:
Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
Children and teens with
Asperger's syndrome often struggle with the social
skills necessary for success in school and social settings. Tony Attwood, a
psychologist and acclaimed expert on Asperger's syndrome, has written books that
can help parents and teachers better understand the nature of this complex
condition. He also offers proven tips and advice to help kids and teens with
Asperger's to bolster their social skills.
Steps that parents may take to help their kids with Asperger's include the
Teach the child some practical skills to
integrate into social settings. It may be helpful to practice introductory
conversational tactics, like asking if he or she can join in. The child
may benefit from practicing appropriate "openers" such as "Can you help me with
this?" or "Can I play too?"
Encourage the child to look at what other
children are doing. Many successful adults with Asperger's syndrome report that
they have learned social skills by watching and emulating what others do in
certain situations. Many kids find that it is easy to copy what the other
children are doing, whether it is making eye contact with their playmates,
listening attentively, participating in a game, or taking turns. This can
be helpful even if they do not possess the necessary social understanding to
intuitively know what to do in these situations.