Getting an Aspergers diagnosis is the first step in helping your child. Getting a diagnosis can be tricky since symptoms vary and change over time. There is also the common element of having more than one condition and that can cause simultaneous symptoms. Regardless of the diagnosis reached at the end of the evaluation, this is helpful to parents. Identifying the illness or condition can provide a type of road map for coping with the illness. A diagnosis will also help you start to heal your child.
Obtaining an early and specific diagnosis allows for early intervention services to begin. Earlier is better for the success rate of therapies and other services. There is a greater chance of reaching age appropriate learning with early intervention. Getting an early and specific diagnosis is important, but getting a second opinion can be just as important. Many childhood behaviors mimic each other and second opinion is invaluable when assessing a child. The severity of Aspergers Syndrome can vary greatly from person to person so getting a second opinion might be necessary to confirm an Aspergers diagnosis.
Many Aspergers children are very intelligent. This intelligence may cover symptoms until they are diagnosed as adults. Many adults with Aspergers are very high-functioning and are clever enough to develop coping mechanisms to deal with their condition. The most widely recognized diagnostic tool for Aspergers Syndrome is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Known as the DSM, it has the full diagnostic criteria for pervasive developmental disorders such as autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
The most recent revision of the DSM is called DSM-IV. This states that the criteria for Aspergers Syndrome (AS) follows the same format as the criteria for autism. The symptoms are organized by onset, social and emotional criteria. There is also a “restricted interests” criteria and motor deficits as well as isolated special skills. The final criterion for an Aspergers diagnosis is the exclusion of other conditions. Pervasive Development Disorder and autism must be ruled out to get to the Aspergers diagnosis. The child might demonstrate behavioral delays or odd behavior patterns in multiple areas of functioning.
An Aspergers specialist can teach a child social skills and help him to understand his Aspergers diagnosis. The first place to look for help is in school. School counselors are trained to teach learning skills and they have a basic understanding of psychology. They have a working knowledge of the DSM diagnostic criteria and they often work with doctors and psychiatrists when considering a diagnosis for a child. Many countries mandate the evaluation of any child with a disability of any kind. An evaluation is done for the purposes of remediation and assistance. If you have a child who is not in school, find a licensed psychologist, with a PhD from an accredited university, to see your child.
As you can see there are a number of reasons why an Aspergers diagnosis can be important to you and your child. In 2012 the diagnosis itself may be removed with the introduction to DSM 5, watch this space…
Dave Angel has been helping parents of children and young adults with Aspergers online for over four years. Read more of his information about Aspergers and Diagnosis