Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Asperger's syndrome, also known as Asperger disorder, Asperger syndrome, or AS, is a pervasive developmental disorder (a spectrum of behavioral disorders including autism). Asperger's syndrome is characterized as one of the autism spectrum disorders (which also include autistic disorder, Rett disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified [PDD-NOS]). Unlike persons with autistic disorder, those with Asperger's syndrome do not show a marked delay in language development or cognitive development. Asperger's syndrome is commonly recognized in children after the age of 3 years and is more frequently diagnosed in boys.
Individuals with Asperger's syndrome have serious impairments in their social and communication skills, including poor nonverbal communication. However, many individuals have good cognitive and verbal skills, and
those with Asperger's syndrome typically have normal to superior intelligence. Many have excellent rote memory and become intensely interested in one or two subjects.
Children with Asperger's syndrome are typically educated in the mainstream setting but sometimes require education accommodations or special education services. These children often have difficulty making friends and are often ostracized, teased, or bullied by their peers.
Asperger's syndrome is named for Dr. Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician, who first described the condition in 1944. The condition was first recognized as a diagnostic entity by the American Psychiatric Association in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV (DSM-IV) in 1994.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD Medical Editor:
Roxanne Dryden-Edwards, MD
It's important to understand that while certain types of symptoms are common
in Asperger's syndrome; these symptoms will vary in intensity and severity among
affected individuals. Moreover, some individuals may have only some of the
associated symptoms, and the overall level of functioning of a given person can
Note: The term Asperger's disorder is the preferred diagnostic term according to the DSM-IV-TR.
People with Asperger's syndrome typically have trouble with the kind of
social skills involved in making and sustaining friendships. Their lack of
understanding of social cues may cause them to behave in inappropriate ways,
such as violating personal space, interrupting conversations, or having trouble
understanding when they have hurt others' feelings. While individuals with
Asperger's syndrome may report that they want to have friends, they may not
understand the true meaning of friendship for others. For example, they may
believe they have many friends or believe that anyone they know is their friend.
Persons with Asperger's syndrome may also be confused about the emotional aspects
of friendship, such as sharing and helping. It may be difficult for them to
break away from their own interests and obsessions in order to listen to others'
needs and opinions.