Families of Adults Affected
by Asperger's Syndrome
The following glossary terms have been listed here to help users of the website find the definition to terms that they might run across while reading materials at this site.
Anxiety disorders are blanket terms covering several different forms of abnormal and pathological fear and anxiety which only came under the aegis of psychiatry at the very end of the 19th century. Gelder, Mayou & Geddes (2005) explains that anxiety disorders are classified in two groups: continuous symptoms and episodic symptoms. Current psychiatric diagnostic criteria recognize a wide variety of anxiety disorders. Recent surveys have found that as many as 18% of Americans may be affected by one or more of them.
The term anxiety covers four aspects of experiences an individual may have: mental apprehension, physical tension, physical symptoms and dissociative anxiety (symptoms associated with hyperventillation). Anxiety disorder is divided into generalized anxiety, phobic, and panic disorders; each has its own characteristics and symptoms and they require different treatment (Gelder et al 2005). The emotions present in anxiety disorders range from simple nervousness to bouts of terror (Barker 2003).
Source: “Anxiety disorder”. (2011, June 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:35, June 23, 2011
Aphasia… is an impairment of language ability. This class of language disorder ranges from having difficulty remembering words to being completely unable to speak, read, or write. Aphasia disorders usually develop quickly as a result of head injury or stroke, but can develop slowly from a brain tumor, infection, or dementia, or can be a learning disability such as dysnomia.
Source: “Aphasia”. (2011, June 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:47, June 24, 2011
Asperger’s Syndrome (AS)
"Asperger Syndrome or (Asperger’s Disorder) is a neurobiological disorder named for a Viennese physician, Hans Asperger, who in 1944 published a paper which described a pattern of behaviors in several young boys who had normal intelligence and language development, but who also exhibited autistic-like behaviors and marked deficiencies in social and communication skills. In spite of the publication of his paper in the 1940′s, it wasn’t until 1994 that Asperger Syndrome was added to the DSM IV and only in the past few years has AS been recognized by professionals and parents.
“Individuals with AS can exhibit a variety of characteristics and the disorder can range from mild to severe. Persons with AS show marked deficiencies in social skills, have difficulties with transitions or changes and prefer sameness. They often have obsessive routines and may be preoccupied with a particular subject of interest. They have a great deal of difficulty reading nonverbal cues (body language) and very often the individual with AS has difficulty determining proper body space. Often overly sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells, and sights, the person with AS may prefer soft clothing, certain foods, and be bothered by sounds or lights no one else seems to hear or see. It’s important to remember that the person with AS perceives the world very differently. Therefore, many behaviors that seem odd or unusual are due to those neurological differences and not the result of intentional rudeness or bad behavior, and most certainly not the result of ‘improper parenting’.
“By definition, those with AS have a normal IQ and many individuals (although not all), exhibit exceptional skill or talent in a specific area. Because of their high degree of functionality and their naiveté, those with AS are often viewed as eccentric or odd and can easily become victims of teasing and bullying. While language development seems, on the surface, normal, individuals with AS often have deficits in pragmatics and prosody. Vocabularies may be extraordinarily rich and some children sound like ‘little professors’. However, persons with AS can be extremely literal and have difficulty using language in a social context.”
Source: Kirby, Barbara L. What Is Asperger Syndrome?
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or AD/HD or ADD) is a neurobehavioral developmental disorder. It is primarily characterized by “the co-existence of attentional problems and hyperactivity, with each behavior occurring infrequently alone” and symptoms starting before seven years of age.
ADHD is the most commonly studied and diagnosed psychiatric disorder in children, affecting about 3 to 5 percent of children globally and diagnosed in about 2 to 16 percent of school aged children. It is a chronic disorder with 30 to 50 percent of those individuals diagnosed in childhood continuing to have symptoms into adulthood. Adolescents and adults with ADHD tend to develop coping mechanisms to compensate for some or all of their impairments. It is estimated that 4.7 percent of American adults live with ADHD.
Inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity are the key behaviors of ADHD. The symptoms of ADHD are especially difficult to define because it is hard to draw the line at where normal levels of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity end and clinically significant levels requiring intervention begin. To be diagnosed with ADHD, symptoms must be observed in two different settings for six months or more and to a degree that is greater than other children of the same age.
Source: “Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder”. (2011, June 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:58, June 23, 2011
Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. These signs all begin before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood. It is one of three recognized disorders in the autism spectrum (ASDs), the other two being Asperger syndrome, which lacks delays in cognitive development and language, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (commonly abbreviated as PDD-NOS), which is diagnosed when the full set of criteria for autism or Asperger syndrome are not met.
Source: “Autism”. (2011, June 14). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:27, June 23, 2011
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
The autism spectrum, also called autism spectrum disorders (ASD) or autism spectrum conditions (ASC), with the adjective autistic sometimes replacing the noun autism, is a spectrum of psychological conditions characterized by widespread abnormalities of social interactions and communication, as well as restricted interests and repetitive behaviour.
Source: “Autism Spectrum”. (2011, June 13). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:14, June 24, 2011
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach which is used by psychologists and therapists to help promote positive change in individuals, to help alleviate emotional distress, and to address a myriad of psycho/social/behavioral issues. Cognitive Behavioral therapists identify and treat difficulties arising from an individual’s irrational thinking, misperceptions, dysfunctional thoughts, and faulty learning. The therapy can be conducted with individuals, families, or groups. Problems such as anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, low self esteem, adjustment difficulties, sleep disturbance, and post-traumatic stress are addressed.
The goals are to restructure one’s thoughts, perceptions, and beliefs. Such restructuring facilitates behavioral and emotional change. During therapy, coping skills and abilities are assessed and further developed.
Source: RSM Psychology Center, LLC. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition. Lists the diagnostic criteria for the most common mental disorders including: description, diagnosis, treatment, and research findings. Published by the American Psychiatric Association, Washington D.C., 1994, it is the main diagnostic reference of Mental Health professionals in the United States of America.
Dysnomia is a difficulty retrieving the correct words, names, or numbers from memory. Dysnomia is a learning disability present from childhood which can affect speech, writing, and/or math. Normal individuals will occasionally suffer problems recalling words, names, and numbers. This normal condition is not a learning disability.
Word recall problems are classified as dysnomia when they are severe enough to interfere with learning or with daily life. Doctors use neuropsychological and speech-language pathology tests to diagnose the condition. Dysnomia cannot be cured, but patients can improve their life skills by using coping strategies.
Source: “Dysnomia (disorder)”. (2011, May 25). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:50, June 24, 2011
Echolalia is the automatic repetition of vocalizations made by another person.
Echolalia can be present in autism and other developmental disabilities, Tourette syndrome, aphasia, Rubinstein-Taybi syndrome, schizophrenia, Asperger syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease and, occasionally, other forms of psychopathology. It is also frequently found in blind or visually impaired children, although most will outgrow this behavior. When done involuntarily, echolalia may be considered a tic.
Source: Echolalia. (2011, April 24). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:30, June 24, 2011
Echopraxia is the involuntary repetition or imitation of the observed movements of another.
Source: “Echopraxia”. (2010, December 23). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:42, June 24, 2011
Epilepsy (often referred to as a seizure disorder) is a chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. The condition is named from the Greek epilepsis (“to take a firm grip on”). It is commonly controlled with medication, although surgical methods are used as well.
Source: “Epilepsy.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 2 Feb 2006, 19:25 UTC. 5 Feb 2006, 21:33
“Hyperlexia is a syndrome in which the main characteristics are an above normal ability to read coupled with a below normal ability to understand spoken language. Hyperlexia appears to be different from what is known as hypergraphia, the urge or compulsion to write, although as with many mental conditions or quirks it is possible that this is more a matter of opinion than strict science. Often, hyperlexic children will have a precocious ability to read but will learn to speak only by rote and heavy repetition, and may also have difficulty learning the rules of language from examples or from trial and error, which may result in social problems.
“Children with hyperlexia may recite the alphabet as early as 18 months, and have the ability to read words by age two and sentences by age three. Many are overly fascinated with books, letters, and numbers. Often their ability is looked at in a positive light, so many parents delay their children receiving help because they believe that their child may be a struggling genius.”
Source: “Hyperlexia.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 7 Jan 2006, 01:13 UTC. 6 Feb 2006, 01:36
A neurotypical (or NT) person is one whose neurological development and state are typical of the local population at large, conforming to what most people would perceive as “normal”.
A methodology of behavior whereby form is more important than function. It is typically used in a negative connotation, indicating someone overly concerned with minutiae and detail. In regards to autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, detail is important, so in a conversation for example, a person with Asperger’s Syndrome will often give extraordinary detail without getting to the point.
The repetition or continuation of something such as the repetition of a word, or a thought, usually to an exceptional degree or beyond a desired point.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)
The diagnostic category pervasive developmental disorders (PDD), as opposed to specific developmental disorders (SDD), refers to a group of five disorders characterized by delays in the development of multiple basic functions including socialization and communication that have traditionally been referred to as Autism.
Parents may note symptoms of PDD as early as infancy and typically onset is prior to three years of age. PDD itself does not affect life expectancy.
The term was introduced by the APA in 1980.
Source: “Pervasive developmental disorder”. (2010, November 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:52, November 29, 2010
Pragmatic Language Impairment (PLI)
Pragmatic language impairment (PLI) is an impairment in understanding pragmatic areas of language. This type of impairment was previously called semantic-pragmatic disorder (SPD). Pragmatic language impairments are related to autism and Asperger syndrome. People with these impairments have special challenges with the semantic aspect of language (the meaning of what is being said) and the pragmatics of language (using language appropriately in social situations).
Source: “Pragmatic language impairment”. (2010, October 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:46, November 29, 2010
Linguistics concerned with the relationship of sentences to the environment in which they occur.
“Prosody consists of distinctive variations of stress, tone, and timing in spoken language. How pitch changes from word to word, the speed of speech, the loudness of speech, and the duration of pauses all contribute to prosody.”
Source: “Prosody.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 8 Nov 2005, 03:47 UTC. 6 Feb 2006, 01:09
Prosopagnosia… is a disorder of face perception where the ability to recognize faces is impaired, while the ability to recognize other objects may be relatively intact. The term originally referred to a condition following acute brain damage, but a congenital form of the disorder has been proposed, which may be inherited by about 2.5% of the population. The specific brain area usually associated with prosopagnosia is the fusiform gyrus.
Source: “Prosopagnosia”. (2011, June 8). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:34, June 24, 2011
“Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by persistent defects in the perception or the expression of reality. A person experiencing untreated schizophrenia typically demonstrates disorganized thinking, and may also experience delusions or auditory hallucinations. Although the disorder primarily affects cognition, it can also contribute to chronic problems with behavior or emotions. Due to the many possible combinations of symptoms, it is difficult to say whether it is in fact a single psychiatric disorder.”
Source: “Schizophrenia.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 5 Feb 2006, 19:44 UTC. 5 Feb 2006, 21:22
A neurological disorder that is characterized by recurrent involuntary tics involving body movements (as eye blinks or grimaces) and vocalizations (as grunts or utterance of inappropriate words), often has one or more associated conditions (as obsessive-compulsive disorder), is more common in males than females, and usually has an onset in childhood. It often, but not always, stabilizes or ameliorates in adulthood.