The Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Scale is instrumental in helping families identify Asperger's syndrome in children. Diagnosis of this pervasive developmental disorder is often difficult because individuals with this condition are very intelligent. Early identification is a key element of successful treatment.
Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Scale
There are many appealing aspects of this tool for assessment. The test offers the following benefits:
- Completed in about 15 minutes
- Simple to use
- Anyone who knows the child can complete the rating scale
- Rules out other disorders
- Attention deficit disorder
- Learning disabilities
- Behavioral disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Other autism spectrum disorders
- Relatively inexpensive compared to some other [[
It is important to note that the diagnostic scale is a screening tool that does not serve to provide an actual diagnosis. The tool assesses the possibility that the child has Asperger's syndrome, but further evaluation is necessary for a proper diagnosis to be made.
How the ASDS Works
The test is typically administered for children who are between the ages of 5 and 18 years old. Taking the test as early as possible is helpful in getting an appropriate diagnosis, and it helps in getting the right therapeutic interventions for AS.
The ASDS contains 50 questions in a simple yes or no format. The questions cover five specific realms of behavior:
- Language development
- Social skills
Each of the five sections has its own scale score that is factored into the child's total score. The ASDS compares the results of the tested child with the results of individuals who have Asperger's syndrome.
The DSM IV is the diagnostic standard that helps identify the five pervasive developmental disorders. Cognitive functioning does not appear to be affected in cases of AS, making it one of the distinctions between Aspergers and other autism spectrum disorders. Obsessive fixation of specific topics is a glaring difference between neurotypical cognitive functioning and AS mental processing.
Language development is another factor that makes Aspergers unique from the other disorders on the autism spectrum. While no apparent delays in language development exists in cases of AS, some nuances of language can be difficult for individuals with this diagnosis. Figurative language, metaphors and humor can be confusing to people who have the syndrome.
Social impairments are problematic for individuals with AS. Difficulties in recognizing other people's emotional states are a significant factor. In addition, problems with processing nonverbal communication, body language and facial expressions are common among AS individuals.
Maladaptive behavior is readily apparent in individuals across the autism spectrum of disorders. A strict adherence to routine with little tolerance for change can be problematic for individuals with the condition. Some children may tantrum for no apparent reason due to the intolerance for the unexpected.
Sensorimotor problems can exist as well. The individual may have difficulty dealing with some forms of sensory input. Some sights, smells and sensations can have a profound effect on an individual's ability to function. The sensory system can be hyperactive or under-active.
Problems can manifest in gross and fine motor skills as well. Coordinating movements with thinking patterns may be disrupted, making some activities very challenging. On the other hand, some excel in many athletic and fine motor activities.
Reviews of the Asperger Syndrome Diagnostic Scale are quite positive. The Journal of Development and Physical Disabilities states that tests show "the ASDS was the best discriminator between children with AS and those without AS". The study asserts that the test functions best in combination with the Gilliam Autism Rating Scale and the Social Skills Rating System.
Sam Goldstein suggests that the test has promise, but makes a point when he notes that the test may not be effective in diagnosing AS specifically, nor does it appear to make a distinction between Aspergers and other pervasive developmental disorders.
The ASDS appears to be a very effective approach to diagnosing Asperger's syndrome. However, some individuals may fall through the cracks. This is especially true for girls with AS, and individuals who speak English as a second language. Bilingual families may have difficulty getting proper assessments as well.