Treatment for High Functioning Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
(formerly called Asperger Syndrome)

Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) most notable for the significant discrepancy between the intellectual and social abilities of those who have it. Asperger’s Syndrome is a pervasive neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by an inability to understand and intense discomfort with interpersonal and social interactions. Typical features of the syndrome also may include clumsy and uncoordinated fine motor movements, social impairments, limited interests and unusual preoccupations, repetitive routines or rituals, speech and language peculiarities, and non-verbal communication and perception problems.

It is possible for people with Asperger’s Disorder to have learning disabilities concurrently with Asperger’s syndrome. In these cases, differential diagnosis is essential to identify subsequent support requirements. However, IQ tests typically may show normal or superior intelligence and standard language development compared with classical autism.

The exact cause of Asperger’s Syndrome is unknown and the prevalence is unclear, due partly to the use of differing sets of diagnostic criteria. Asperger Syndrome was named in honor of Hans Asperger (1906-1980), an Austrian psychiatrist and pediatrician.

In 1994, Asperger’s Disorder was recognized in the 4th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) as Asperger’s Disorder. AS is often not identified in early childhood, and many individuals do not receive diagnosis until after puberty or when they are adults. Assistance for core symptoms of AS consists of therapies that apply behavior management strategies and address poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines, and physical clumsiness. Many individuals with AS can adopt strategies for coping and lead very fulfilling lives – being gainfully employed, getting married or having successful relationships, and having families.

In most cases, they are aware of their differences and recognize when they need support to maintain an independent life. There are instances where adults do not realize that they have AS personalities until they are having difficulties with relationships. Recognition of the very literal and logical thought processes that are typical of AS can be a tremendous help to both partners in a close/family relationship.

People with Asperger’s Syndrome – high functioning autism (“Aspies” as many call themselves) generally have minimal facial expressions apart from an occasional angry facade (typically more so in males) or suffering.

Most individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome have superior rote memory, mathematical and musical ability, and become intensely interested in one or two subjects (often to the exclusion of other topics). They may talk at length about a favorite subject or repeat a word or phrase many times. People with Asperger’s Syndrome tend to be “in their own world” and preoccupied with the topics that engage their interest.

If you’ve been told that you or a loved one has Asperger’s syndrome, you likely have a lot of questions. At Awakenings we can help you better understand this disorder and pathways for effective treatment.

Additionally, here is a list of organizations, articles, and websites for more information and support. Awakenings consults with each of these organizations as needed to best support our clients and families.

Organizations That Offer Help to Families

Awakenings Treatment Center provides intensive treatment for individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome – ASD. Our multi-disciplinary approach combines specific social skills training, individual and group supports and most importantly an array of neuroscientific treatment that strategically addresses discomfort in social situations and difficulties perceiving social cues.

In addition, our ASD treatment program includes weekly family therapy as well as a monthly Awakenings Family Intensive Day. This program provides support and education for family members and loved ones of our clients.