Asperger?s Syndrome and Instructional Intervention

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Asperger’s Syndrome and Instructional Intervention
Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is a pervasive developmental disability first identified in 1944 by Dr. Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician. However, since his paper was written in German and published during World War II, his findings were not well known in the United States and in other non-German speaking countries. In 1981, Dr. Lorna Wing, a British researcher, brought AS to the attention of the English-speaking world. In addition to summarizing Asperger’s findings, she also pointed out the similarities between AS and autism, raising the question: Are they the same disorder or two separate ones (Ozonoff, Dawson, & McPartland, 2002)? It was not until 1994 that the American Psychiatric Association included AS as a diagnostic category in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-Fourth Edition (DSM-IV; Myles, 2002).
Although some debate exists among researchers, AS is considered part of the autism spectrum (Attwood, 1998). Autism is generally defined as having an impairment of both normal social interactions and communication (Out of the Deep Freeze, 2003). However, individuals with AS are often highly verbal (Gottlieb, 2003). Even though labeled high-functioning autism, AS may cause the greatest disability in adolescence and young adults when it comes to developing social relationships. People with AS desire social interactions, however they lack the appropriate social skills (Barnhill, 2002) and, in turn, have trouble interacting with people (Travis, 2003). They do not have the ability to read social cues and will often display socially and emotionally inappropriate behaviors: lack of empathy, one-sided interactions, pedantic and repetitive speech, and intense absorption in certain subjects (Attwood, 1998). Non-verbal communications skills are also impaired. These may include: limited use of gestures, clumsy body language, limited facial gestures, inappropriate expression, and peculiar, stiff gaze (Attwood, 1998). Additional characteristics of AS include literal thinking, poor problem-solving skills, poor organizational skills, and difficulty in discriminating between relevant and irrelevant stimuli (Myles & Simpson, 2002).
Identifying an individual with AS usually does not occur until after the preschool years. The symptoms are not generally recognized ...

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