Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are described as a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that vary in severity. Such characteristics as social withdrawal, repetitive actions, aggression, and language development problems may be present in children with ASD (Andreou & Peristeri, 2020). The complexity of the disease depends on its type, which can be high- or low-functioning autism (Andreou & Peristeri, 2020). For example, Asperger’s syndrome belongs to the former group, while Rett disorder is categorized as the latter (Barber, 2018). Although Asperger’s was removed from the official classification in the DSM-5 manual, the term is still used in ICD-11 protocols to categorize the syndrome as a subtype of ASD (Andreou & Peristeri, 2020). Patients with Asperger’s have challenges with social and emotional interaction, possess stereotypical behaviors, are obsessed with objects, and may have language development delays (Andreou & Peristeri, 2020). Individuals with Asperger’s may have the same or milder language development issues as ASD patients, but they usually overcome this problem with age due to appropriate intervention.
When evaluating a child’s language development, it is essential to assess all aspects and compare to the established standards to differentiate ASD-associated complications from a hearing loss. Due to various abnormalities in neurological development, wiring, and defective pruning, many autistic children have accompanying difficulty with receptive or expressive language (Frisbie, 2022). Therefore, children with Asperger’s syndrome, having the same but milder defects in their brains, are frequently diagnosed with the same communication problem as those with a more severe form of ASD. Still, in contrast to low-functioning autism, Asperger’s patients are generally expected to catch up with their healthy counterparts and have a normal language perception and expression (Barber, 2018). However, they are often at a greater risk of developing such psychiatric conditions as generalized anxiety, major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bipolar disorder later in life (Barber, 2018). This association is significantly high due to continuous social and emotional interaction challenges in individuals with Asperger’s.
I selected this disorder because I became particularly interested in ASD after my summer volunteering work in the school for autistic children. I had an opportunity to work with patients with high- and low-functioning ASD. I noticed that they appeared exhausted and frustrated because of their inability to communicate. Furthermore, I worked with several children with Asperger’s syndrome who were intelligent and talented but had language difficulties. Thus, I decided to do more research to better comprehend the etiology and pathophysiology of various syndromes, specifically Asperger’s, classified under the branch of ASD.
By reviewing the literature, I hope to find an effective intervention for correcting these children’s language and communication problems. I wanted to explore more about the pathophysiology of this disorder that affects their brains, resulting in the challenges that ASD patients have to face early in life. Fortunately, extensive research is being conducted in the field; hence, people have a better understanding of ASD now. If I find a study that provides strong evidence for the efficiency of a specific method, I want to suggest implementing it in the school where I worked as a volunteer.
In summary, autism spectrum disorder is a complex, pervasive disorder of neural development that negatively impacts children’s social interaction, emotional and cognitive performance, and language development. Although Asperger’s patients are categorized to have a high-functioning ASD and usually have relatively normal development, they still may have communication challenges due to receptive and expressive abnormalities. Furthermore, they are often at greater risk of developing such psychiatric disorders as obsessive-compulsive, depression, anxiety, and bipolar in adulthood. After working with these children in the special school, I started to research the literature in this field to understand the pathophysiology of the disease and review the recent advancement in treatment methods.
Andreou, M., & Peristeri, E. (2020). Expressive vocabulary in children with Asperger syndrome: Insights into the organization of the mental lexicon in autism spectrum disorder from item analyses. European Journal of Psychological Research, 7(1), 33-39.
Barber, C. F. (2018). Asperger’s syndrome and mental health. British Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 7(2), 70-74. doi:10.12968/bjmh.2018.7.2.70
Frisbie, A. K. (2022). Assessing spoken language development in children with autism spectrum disorder. In T. Haug, W. Mann, & U. Knoch (Eds.), The handbook of language assessment across modalities (pp. 119-152). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.