Charles D. Weinstein, Ph.D.: Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Pervasive Developmental Disorders include Autistic Disorder and Asperger's Disorder.

Autism is a disorder consisting primarily of severe impairment in the areas of communication and social interaction. Individuals can also demonstrate repetitive and nonproductive behaviors such as walking in patterns, hand flapping, spinning of self and/or objects, and lining up objects.

Autism is a disorder with a spectrum of severity. Some individuals are nonverbal, while others are able to communicate. Most individuals with autism are impaired cognitively. However, some are able to live independent lives.

Autism should be identified as early as possible so that interventions can be initiated. If a child is not talking by age 2, a speech evaluation should be completed. Not all children with speech delays have autism, but all children with autism have speech delays and/or uneven speech development.

Asperger's is not diagnosed until early or middle childhood. Speech development is normal. These individuals demonstrate impaired social functioning. They tend not to understand social cues, they have significant difficulty engaging in social conversation, and they tend to be very interested and knowledgeable about a specific area and will “lecture” to others on the topic. In addition, they can be clumsy. Sometimes they engage in repetitive and nonproductive behaviors.

There are specific assessment techniques to diagnose Autism and Asperger's. Assessment includes a gathering of information regarding the specific symptoms, gathering a developmental history, completing behavior checklists, and administering the ADOS, an observational assessment system.

Treatment interventions include speech therapy, floor time therapy, occupational therapy, and social skills training. Special education programs should be pursued.

For more specific information regarding Autism and Asperger's, please visit the following links:

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Autism Society of America