Clinical assessment of children and adolescents
with Asperger Syndrome
Rosina G. Schnurr
As Asperger Syndrome (AS) becomes more widely known to the public, greater numbers of children with suspected or diagnosed AS are coming to the attention of professionals. Clinicians are asked to assist with clinical and behavioural issues, and with providing a diagnosis to procure services for the child. There is often urgency to the request as many referrals are precipitated by a crisis. For clinicians new to the field of AS, assessing a child for AS is a challenge as considerable clinical experience with this group is sometimes required to recognize significant symptoms.
The purpose of this chapter is to provide an introduction to assessment of the child or adolescent with AS. This discussion is based on the author's experience as a clinical psychologist in assessing and diagnosing children with AS. Introductory issues in assessment will be reviewed and followed by a discussion of the interview of the child or youth with suspected AS. Then, 11 areas for exploration in the parent interview are summarized.
The most comprehensive assessment of the child or adolescent suspected of having AS includes reviewing past evaluations of the child, observing the child in the home and school settings, evaluating language and motor skills, and using a battery of instruments designed to measure traits of AS. These measures assess the extent of autistic symptoms, emotional maturity, academic abilities, achievement, and learning difficulties. In addition, the use of personality assessment instruments and those designed to evaluate emotional difficulties (e.g. anxiety and depression) may be necessary. Obtaining ratings and reports from others involved