From DSM IV (p77):
Diagnostic Criteria FOR 299.80 Asperger's Disorder
A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
B. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
- marked impairments in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
- failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
- a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g. by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
- lack of social or emotional reciprocity
C. The disturbance causes clinically significant impairments in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning
- encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
- apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
- stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
- persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
D. There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)
E. There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood
F. Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia
GILLBERG'S CRITERIA FOR ASPERGER'S DISORDER
- Severe impairment in reciprocal social interaction
(at least two of the following)
- (a) inability to interact with peers
- (b) lack of desire to interact with peers
- (c) lack of appreciation of social cues
- (d) socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior
- All-absorbing narrow interest
(at least one of the following)
- (a) exclusion of other activities
- (b) repetitive adherence
- (c) more rote than meaning
- Imposition of routines and interests
(at least one of the following)
- (a) on self, in aspects of life
- (b) on others
- Speech and language problems
(at least three of the following)
- (a) delayed development
- (b) superficially perfect expressive language
- (c) formal, pedantic language
- (d) odd prosody, peculiar voice characteristics
- (e) impairment of comprehension including misinterpretations of literal/implied meanings
- Non-verbal communication problems
(at least one of the following)
- (a) limited use of gestures
- (b) clumsy/gauche body language
- (c) limited facial expression
- (d) inappropriate expression
- (e) peculiar, stiff gaze
- Motor clumsiness: poor performance on neurodevelopmental examination
(All six criteria must be met for confirmation of diagnosis.)
A More Down-to-Earth Description by Lois Freisleben-Cook.
NOTE:(This was originally a post to the bit.listserv.autism newsgroup/listserv)
I saw that someone posted the DSM IV criteria for Asperger's but I thought it might be good to provide a more down to earth description. Asperger's Syndrome is a term used when a child or adult has some features of autism but may not have the full blown clinical picture. There is some disagreement about where it fits in the PDD spectrum. A few people with Asperger's syndrome are very successful and until recently were not diagnosed with anything but were seen as brilliant, eccentric, absent minded, socially inept, and a little awkward physically.
Although the criteria state no significant delay in the development of language milestones, what you might see is a "different" way of using language. A child may have a wonderful vocabulary and even demonstrate hyperlexia but not truly understand the nuances of language and have difficulty with language pragmatics. Social pragmatics also tend be weak, leading the person to appear to be walking to the beat of a "different drum". Motor dyspraxia can be reflected in a tendency to be clumsy.
In social interaction, many people with Asperger's syndrome demonstrate gaze avoidance and may actually turn away at the same moment as greeting another. The children I have known do desire interaction with others but have trouble knowing how to make it work. They are, however, able to learn social skills much like you or I would learn to play the piano.
There is a general impression that Asperger's syndrome carries with it superior intelligence and a tendency to become very interested in and preoccupied with a particular subject. Often this preoccupation leads to a specific career at which the adult is very successful. At younger ages, one might see the child being a bit more rigid and apprehensive about changes or about adhering to routines. This can lead to a consideration of OCD but it is not the same phenomenon.
Many of the weaknesses can be remediated with specific types of therapy aimed at teaching social and pragmatic skills. Anxiety leading to significant rigidity can be also treated medically. Although it is harder, adults with Asperger's can have relationships, families, happy and productive lives.
Dr. Lois Freisleben-Cook
For me Asperger Syndrome means that I have trouble interacting socially and that I have trouble also understanding phrases and facial expressions, though, as in the paragraph above, I can learn them as any person can learn to play the piano. It is harder with facial expressions as everyone has different faces and different ways of showing that they are angry or sad or happy. Words don't change with people so they are easier.
I also have a big problem with imagination. At an Asperger's Syndrome youth club one time (yes, there are some!) we were asked to draw a collage of Fun out of little beads and Kinder Egg shells and similar junk. Every person there had trouble with that. When asked what we had drawn and it came to me I informed the supervisor proudly that I had made a ring of beasds with two kinder eggs shells and a moon and a star in the middle. Puzzled, she asked what it symbolised, and, just as baffled as her I just said to her, 'How should I know?"