7-year-old with social difficulties may have Asperger syndrome

January 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)

Donna Kapes of Schnecksville contacted me about the Help for Families column about the 7-year-old boy who is gifted and was having difficulty making friends. Kapes feels that the panel should have suggested the boy be evaluated for Asperger syndrome, which is a disorder on the autism spectrum.

“Too many times I have heard the story of undiagnosed children with Asperger syndrome who struggled for years without the appropriate supports in place,” she wrote in an e-mail.

The panel discussed Asperger syndrome in a previous question in which guest panelist Emily Leayman talked about the difference between Asperger syndrome and ADHD.

“Kids on the autism spectrum have more challenges reading social cues, and that plays out in their interaction with other kids,” Leayman said in the column. “Kids with ADHD know how to do that, but their impulsivity interferes. So the main difference is a child with ADHD has the social skills but needs to slow down, while the child with Asperger’s syndrome doesn’t have the social skills.”

“Most children with Asperger’s syndrome can relate to other people as much as any child,” said panelist Marcie Lightwood.

Children with Asperger’s syndrome do not have as significant social delays as other children with autism-spectrum disorders, Leayman said. It’s more subtle.

“They can can participate in groups but have trouble with certain nuances, social norms and reading body language,” Leayman saids. “But in a lot of social interaction many can seem very much like everyone else. There are a lot of adults who probably have Asperger’s syndrome and they’re in professions that don’t require a lot of social interaction.”

Here are some resources for parents:

ARCH — Autism Resource Community Hub (ARCH) of Lehigh Valley: http://www.elwyn.org/BHS/ARCH—of—Lehigh—Valley/ARCH.html

Autism Society of America Lehigh Valley Chapter: http://autismsocietyofamerica-lehighvalleychapter.giving.officelive.com /default.aspx

Asperger Syndrome Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/aspergers-syndrome/DS00551

OASIS. Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support: http://www.aspergersyndrome.org/

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