Communication and Asperger Syndrome:
The speech–language pathologist's role
Communication deficits are a central consideration in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders (ASDs). It is because of deficient or disordered communication (which includes nonverbal language, articulation, receptive and expressive language, the social use of language, and written language skills) that the speech–language pathologist (SLP) has become a fundamental member of the team supporting individuals with ASDs. In this role, the SLP assists with the diagnosis, and in the design and implementation of treatment.
When delineating the symptomatology necessary for the diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome (AS) however, the core communication deficits may not be readily apparent and may not be the primary cause for obtaining a diagnosis. If language impairment is a factor for these individuals, then what is the role of the SLP in diagnosis and treatment? The aim of this chapter is to describe the assessment and intervention process of the SLP in her work with children and adolescents with AS. First, the unique language and communication profile of individuals with AS will be reviewed.
According to the DSM-IV (APA 1994), AS is characterized by a triad of symptoms: (1) deficits in social interaction, (2) deficits in social communication, and (3) a restricted range of interests and behaviours. Individuals with AS demonstrate significant impairments in the social domain, namely in social skills and the social use of language. With respect to communication deficits, there is typically