Asperger's Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Outcome
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Should Asperger's syndrome be distinguished as a separate clinical entity? Unfortunately, relatively little empiric information is available on this issue. The data suggest, however, that even compared to high-functioning autistic children of equivalent IQ, Asperger's syndrome children have better social and language skills. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that they have a different outcome, although this needs to be confirmed in proper, controlled follow-up studies. Although some differences in etiology between autism and Asperger's syndrome have been identified, these are of uncertain clinical significance. It may be that, for purposes of recognition and research, Asperger's syndrome should be considered a separate entity. This ensures that such children are identified for treatment and included in research protocols. This, in itself, would be of considerable benefit, even if it is acknowledged that Asperger's syndrome and autism probably represent different endpoints of a similar pathogenic mechanism. Asperger's syndrome represents a type of developmental disability that profoundly limits a child's participation in the process of growing up. After all, childhood is a time of play and of learning how to communicate with others. As clinicians, we need to understand these limitations and not put up artificial barriers to appropriate diagnostic and treatment services. It is hoped that the growing recognition of the predicament of these children will stimulate greater interest in research and treatment. Not only will children with Asperger's syndrome benefit from this, but, by extension, so will all children with developmental disabilities.
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