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Autism and Asperger Syndrome

Essay by   •  January 23, 2011  •  Essay  •  785 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,340 Views

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Autism is a developmental disability whose symptoms are manifested very early in life. The severity and symptoms of the disorder vary and are dependant on the type of autism. However, all autistic individuals experience similar symptoms such as; difficulties in areas of social relatedness, varied levels of communication skills, ability to determine socially acceptable/ unacceptable behaviors, and interests.

To fully understand the abilities of children with autism, much research is needed. However, in the last decade researchers have focused on the unique abilities of autistic children, as well as on what methods best allow the autistic person to fully realize his/her potential both socially and intellectually.

The American Psychiatric Association distinguishes between classical autism and Asperger syndrome. People with Asperger syndrome have been described as individuals with significant challenges in social and emotional functioning but without significant delays in language described as autistic. Asperger also discusses savants in individuals who display extraordinary skills in areas such as calendar calculating, musical ability, mathematical skills, memorization, and mechanical abilities, but still facing developmental challenges in social and emotional functioning.

Griswold, Barnhill, Smith Miles, Hagiwara, and Simpson (2002) conducted a study in which they evaluated students who had already accumulated many academic achievement scores, extending from significantly above average to far below their grade level. All of those who had been tested were diagnosed with Asperger syndrome. The lowest achievement scores were evident in Numerical Operations, Listening Comprehension, and Written Expression. In this study, 21 children participated. They were given a series of standard achievement tests, which included WIAT, TOPS-R, and TOPS-A. The findings in this study suggest that students with Asperger syndrome have mathematical deficits, especially in applying mathematical principles, understanding functions, and performing accurate calculations.

The above findings, however, are not supported by Dickerson Mayes, and Calhoun (2003), whose research suggests that reading, math and spelling scores were in assessments used in gathering data. Their study concentrates on the IQ scores instead of test scores that measure ability. The test included all IQ ranges across a variety of ages. Their samples consisted of 53 children who took the Stanford-Binet: IV exam and 63 children who were given the WISC-III test. As supported by their research, children with low IQ performed at or above expectancy, while the other groups were in the average range.

In yet another study, Dickerson Mayes and Calhoun (2003) concentrated on ability profiles in children with autism. This study found that the abilities of children with autism can be affected by how early in life a child has been diagnosed. Children diagnosed at an older age tend to have higher IQs than those diagnosed at a younger age. Reading, mathematics, and spelling scores were consistent with the IQ scores. This sample consisted of 164 autistic school age children. They were evaluated using questionnaires, observations, parent interviews

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