Asperger's Syndrome in Young Children: A Developmental Guide for Parents and Professionals

By Laurie Leventhal-Belfer; Cassandra Coe | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 1

The World of the Young Child

Parents of a young child with Asperger's Syndrome often question if their child's behavior is within the [normal] range. The world of the young child is a rich and complicated place with so many things happening developmentally that this can be a difficult question to answer. Given the complexities of the world of the young child, we feel that it is important to develop a shared understanding of the developmental tasks salient at this age. This chapter will provide an overview of the areas of developmental growth that characterize the young child. What can make this time period both rewarding and challenging for parents, teachers, and children is that the children are undergoing major changes at varying rates in differing areas of development. With this in mind we will examine the developmental tasks which are characteristic of the young child in the areas of sensory-motor development, communication, cognition, play, emotional and social functioning, relationships with caregivers and peers, and the child's capacity to cope with stressful events.

Due to the fact that Asperger's Syndrome is much more prevalent in boys than girls, we have chosen to use the male pronoun [he] throughout the book, recognizing that the diagnosis also applies to girls. We also strongly encourage all readers to consider the impact that culture plays in our understanding and interpretation of behavior. All families have their own cultural framework from which they perceive and respond to the world around them. When interpretations of behavior are being made, sensitivity to this cultural lens is important for working with the family in a culturally respectful manner. Similarly, professionals working with these families (e.g. teachers, pediatricians, mental health professionals, and other clinicians) also wear their own cultural lens. The awareness of each other's cultural background and potential biases will help one gain a better understanding of the developmental tasks of the young child.

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