On Your Mind: About Asperger’s Syndrome

on your mind

Dear Tom,

I’ve been reading a lot about Asperger’s Syndrome lately, and my son has many of the characteristics associated with this condition. He is 8 years old and has never been diagnosed. Isn’t this something our pediatrician would have already caught? What type of doctor typically diagnoses someone with Asperger’s and how should I proceed, if I think he might have this condition? Is there any treatment available for Asperger’s Syndrome?

Dear Mom,

Asperger’s syndrome, also called Asperger’sdisorder, is part of the continuum of pervasive developmental disorders (PDD). PDDs are a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination. PDDs include the diagnoses of Autism and the milder form, Asperger’s syndrome

While Asperger’s syndrome is a part of the PDD continuum which includes Autism, Asperger’s is at the milder end and there are some important differences between the two. Children with Asperger’ssyndrome typically have better social functioning than do those with autism. In addition, children with Asperger’s syndrome generally have normal to near-normal intelligence and near-normal language development.

Asperger’s syndrome is frequently first diagnosed between the ages of 3 and 8 years but can actually be identified at almost any age once delays in social development can be identified. While there is no cure, early identification and treatment can be helpful in improving quality of life and functioning level. Some treatment interventions are Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech Therapy. Also, Social Skills training and Behavior Modification can assist in enhancing pro-social behaviors and reducing problem behaviors.

Asperger’s syndrome is usually first recognized by a pediatrician during a routine well-child checkup when looking at social developmental milestones. Not all pediatricians will be quick to make this diagnosis as it requires parents to report some of the developmental concerns that would flag a more thorough investigation. Most commonly, a pediatrician will refer the child for further assessment by a specialist to be assured of the diagnosis. A more complete assessment may be done by a specialist, such as a child and adolescent psychiatrist or psychologist, pediatric neurologist, developmental-behavioral pediatrician, or another health professional who is specially trained to diagnose and treat Asperger’s syndrome.

Good luck Mom.


Tom Petrizzo serves as CEO of Ozark Guidance and has degrees in social work and law. You can reach Ozark Guidance at 479-750-2020. Tom has spent the last 20 years managing non-profit centers in Texas, Kansas, Colorado and Arkansas. He has also served as adjunct faculty at the social work graduate program at three large universities. He’s married to Teri Classick, a licensed clinical social worker, and they have two daughters. When he’s not at work, Tom likes to jog, bike ride, read and he even belted out the National Anthem lately at a Northwest Arkansas Naturals Game!

Tom would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback. Tom will be back each month to answer another woman’s question.

Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.