Asperger syndrome Aspergers disorder A

condition characterized by sustained problems with social interactions and social relatedness, and the development of restricted, repetitive patterns of interests, activities, and behaviors. The disorder is named after Hans Asperger, a Viennese pediatrician who first documented this cluster of characteristics in the 1940s.

One type of autism spectrum disorder, Asperger's is a milder form of autism but without the delays in cognitive or language development. In 1994 Asperger's was first classified as a pervasive developmental disorder, a designation that also includes autistic disorder.

Many children with pervasive developmental disorders such as Asperger's disorder also meet the diagnostic criteria for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). However, ADHD should not be diagnosed when there is Asperger's, since all the ADHD symptoms can be attributed to the other condition. Clinicians who overlook other symptoms of Asperger's tend to diagnose these children as having ADHD.

Like many learning disorders, Asperger's is believed to be more common in boys, although more research needs to be done to understand its genetic origins. According to the National Institutes of Health, Asperger's disorder occurs in one out of every 500 Americans—more often than multiple sclerosis, down syndrome, or cystic fibrosis. It is estimated that more than 400,000 families are affected by this condition.

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