There is quite a bit of controversy about it, but it looks as if Asperger’s Disorder will only be around for a couple more years. This diagnosis will probably get the axe in the upcoming DSM-V, when it arrives, subsumed into the so-called Autism Spectrum. It will be interesting to watch how a change in language will change how we think about a certain constellation of behaviors. If you’re interested, I have a link here to the proposed changes to the DSM.
Please read my disclaimer here about diagnosing yourself or anyone you know. The short version is, you can’t do it.
And, for the time being, here are the diagnostic criteria, word-for-word from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision, page 84. As with Autistic Disorder, note the absence of qualities we may think of as common in Asperger’s Disorder, such as being picky about food or other things, being sensitive to things like noise or texture, any visual processing abnormalities such as non-susceptibility to visual illusion, being easily upset, self-harming behaviors, high IQ or “splinter skills.” None of these are considered in the diagnosis.
Diagnostic criteria for 299.80 Asperger’s Disorder
A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:
(1) marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
(2) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
(3) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
(4) lack of social or emotional reciprocity
B. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
(1) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
(2) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
(3) stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
(4) persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
C. The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
D. There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years).
E. There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skill, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood.
F. Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia.
[First published on Nathen’s Miraculous Escape, April 6, 2011.]