Learning from Those
who Have Asperger Syndrome
The treatment of children and adults with Asperger Syndrome is not traditional psychotherapy. There are differences in the direct work as well as in the collateral work with family members. For children and adolescents, there is often a greater need for collaborative contacts with schools and with other professionals. The therapy and the collaboration are very specific to the difficulties and abilities that their strengths and their challenges present.
Formal diagnosis of any mental disorder relies on a description of what is observable, of how the person presents as we look from the outside. Asperger Syndrome is included in the American Psychiatric Association Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). This manual provides a description of observable behavior and symptoms, the purpose of which is to enable clinicians and others to refer to agreed upon criteria. Understanding deficits tells us more about who someone is not, rather than who someone is.
Nonverbal Learning Disorder is not included in the Diagnostic Manual at this time. However, it is a diagnosis that is used by child therapists and educators. Some of the features of Nonverbal Learning Disorder are very similar to those of Asperger Syndrome. Many children who are diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome have a Nonverbal Learning Disorder. These children often have similar or overlapping issues, dynamics, and needs. For purpose of their clinical presentation, I have included some examples of children diagnosed with Nonverbal Learning Disorder when their issues and abilities are similar to those of children with an Asperger Syndrome diagnosis. Some clinicians and researchers consider Asperger Syndrome and Nonverbal