asperger's - Laura Serafin Professor Tasso General...

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Laura Serafin Professor Tasso General Psychology December 2, 2007 Rain Man , winner of four Academy awards, has recently become one of my favorite movies because it has given me unique insight into the world of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, along with a better understanding and sensitivity towards such mental disorders. The movie, starring Dustin Hoffman as the autistic brother Raymond Babbitt (a/k/a “Rain Man”) and Tom Cruise as his younger brother Charlie, is about a journey of discovery as each brother is drawn into each other’s very different world. Although the main character of this movie, Raymond Babbit, was originally diagnosed during the 1960’s as suffering from autism along with savant syndrome, rediagnosis of his symptoms today would reclassify him as an Asperger’s Syndrome case. Virtually unknown until the past decade, Asperger’s Syndrome has recently emerged and been recognized as a new developmental disorder whose condition is thought to fall within the spectrum of autism with enough distinct features to warrant its own label. Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) became a distinct disease and diagnosis in 1992 when it was included in the tenth published edition of the World Health Organization’s diagnostic manual, International Classification of Diseases, and in 1994 it was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic reference book (ninds). In Asperger’s Syndrome, affected individuals are characterized by social isolation and eccentric behavior in childhood. There are impairments in two-sided social interaction and non-verbal communication. Although their language may be grammatically correct, their speech may sound peculiar due to abnormalities of inflection and a repetitive pattern. Clumsiness may also be prominent in both their articulation as well as gross motor behavior (nimh). Unlike children with autism, however, children with Asperger’s Syndrome retain their early language skills. Motor development delays in crawling, walking late, and clumsiness are sometimes the first indicators of this disorder. The most distinguishing symptom of Asperger’s Syndrome is a person’s obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. AS sufferers characteristically want to know everything about their topic of interest and their conversations with others will be about little else (ninds). Their expertise, high level of
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vocabulary, and formal speech patterns make them seem like “professors.” Other characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome include repetitive routines or rituals; peculiarities in speech and language; socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and the inability to interact successfully with peers; problems with non-verbal communication; and clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements (nimh). It is believed that people with AS are isolated because of their poor social skills and narrow interests. For instance, AS
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2008 for the course PSYC 1201 taught by Professor Tasso during the Fall '08 term at Fairleigh Dickinson.

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asperger's - Laura Serafin Professor Tasso General...

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