Asperger's Syndrome - Diagnosis

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How is Asperger's syndrome diagnosed?

Diagnosis is based upon interviews and observation of the individual along with interviews of his/her family members and sometimes teachers or counselors. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th. Edition, known as the DSM-IV, is published by the American Psychiatric Association and includes the diagnostic criteria for all recognized psychiatric conditions.

The DSM-IV has specific diagnostic criteria for Asperger's syndrome (see below). However, revision of the DSM-IV is currently underway, with a 5th edition (DSM-V) planned for publication in 2013. According to draft guidelines that are under consideration, Asperger's syndrome would be included in the same diagnostic group as people with autism and pervasive developmental disorders. Until new guidelines are formally adopted, the diagnostic guidelines from the 4th edition are still accepted.

According to the DSM-IV, the six diagnostic criteria for Asperger's syndrome are as follows. The individual must exhibit:

  1. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
  1. Marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body posture, and gestures to regulate social interaction.
  2. Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level.
  3. A lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interest, or achievements with other people (for example, by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people).
  4. Lack of social or emotional reciprocity.
  1. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
  1. Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.
  2. Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines, or rituals.
  3. Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (for example, hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements).
  4. Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects.
  1. The disturbance causes clinically significant impairments in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  2. There is no clinically significant general delay in language (for example, single words used by age two years, communicative phrases used by age three years).
  3. There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction) and curiosity about the environment in childhood.
  4. Criteria are not met for another specific pervasive developmental disorder or schizophrenia.
Return to Asperger's Syndrome (Asperger Syndrome, Asperger Disorder)

See what others are saying

Comment from: LaLaLand, 7-12 Female (Caregiver) Published: December 12

My son was formally diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome by a pediatric neurologist. However, we were informed by his Pre-K3 teacher that there was an issue that he would not talk to anyone other than her and that he would act out if/when she asked him a question to answer out loud before any other students. He could not ride the tricycle and would have a tantrum if someone put him on one. He seemed uninterested in any of the events or topics at school and often wanted to be alone.

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