Asperger's syndrome is a developmental condition in which people have difficulties understanding how to interact socially. A diagnosis is best made with input from parents, doctors, teachers, and other caregivers who know or who have observed the child. Asperger's syndrome is diagnosed when specific criteria are met. These include:
- Poor social interaction.
- Unusual behavior, interests, and activities.
- No delay in language development.
- No delay in self-help skills and curiosity about the environment.
Your doctor will take a medical history by asking questions about your child's development, including information about motor development, language, areas of special interest, and social interactions. He or she will also ask about the mother's pregnancy and the family's history of medical conditions.
Testing can help your doctor find out whether your child's problem is related to Asperger's syndrome. Your primary care provider may refer your child to a specialist for testing, including:
- Psychological assessment. Intellectual function and learning style are evaluated. IQ (intelligence quotient) and motor skills tests are common. Personality assessment tests may also be done.
- Communication assessment. Speech and formal language are evaluated. Children are tested to find out how well they understand and use language to communicate ideas. Your doctor will also test for understanding of nonverbal forms of communication and nonliteral language skills, such as understanding of humor or metaphor. He or she will listen to your child's voice for volume, stress, and pitch.
- Psychiatric examination. Your doctor may examine your child's family and peer relationships, reactions to new situations, and the ability to understand the feelings of others and types of indirect communication such as teasing and sarcasm. Your doctor may want to observe your child at home and at school. He or she may also look for conditions such as anxiety and depression, which are often found in people with Asperger's syndrome.
When making a diagnosis, your doctor will see if your child meets the criteria published in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a publication of the American Psychiatric Association.