Autism: An Introduction to Psychological Theory

By Francesca Happé | Go to book overview

Chapter 8

Asperger's syndrome
Chapter 2 discussed Hans Asperger's observations of a group of children he considered to have “autistic psychopathy”. As well as striking similarities to Kanner's first description of his own American cases, Asperger's account contains points which contrast with the Kanner prototype of autism. In particular, his cases appear to have had better language abilities, more motor difficulties and perhaps more original thinking capacities than Kanner's subjects. These differences have led people to wonder whether Asperger was, in fact, describing a rather different group of children-perhaps a special subgroup within the autistic spectrum.
Diagnosis

History
The term “Asperger's syndrome” was first used by Lorna Wing (1981a), who introduced the diagnosis in an attempt to gain recognition for those very able autistic people who do not fit the Kanner stereotype of being silent and aloof. She listed six diagnostic criteria based on Asperger (1944):
1. speech-no delay, but content odd, pedantic, stereotyped;
2. non-verbal communication-little facial expression, monotone voice, inappropriate gesture;
3. social interactions-not reciprocal, lacking empathy;
4. resistance to change-enjoy repetitive activities;
5. motor coordination-gait and posture odd, gross movements clumsy, sometimes stereotypies;
6. skills and interests-good rote memory, circumscribed special interests.

In addition to these, she reports Asperger's claim that this disorder is

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