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Cognitive and behavioural profiles of autism and Asperger's syndrome : are they distinctive?

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Le Fevre, CH 2009 , 'Cognitive and behavioural profiles of autism and Asperger's syndrome : are they distinctive?', Coursework Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This literature review examines the emergence of the diagnostic criteria of Pervasive Developmental Disorders, focusing on autism and Asperger's Syndrome. Autism first described by Leo Kanner in 1943 was originally identified as a form of childhood schizophrenia, and was first recognised as a distinct disorder in 1980. In 1944 Hans Asperger identified children who appeared to have autism but were more able in their use of language and social interactions than children with autism. The current diagnostic criteria and identifying markers which differentiate the two disorders are critically examined, and the challenges in accurately diagnosing individuals with these pervasive developmental disorders are presented. Asperger's Syndrome is currently indicated by several deficits shared with autism: impairments in social interaction, communication and the presence of repetitive behaviours. The fact that they share many similar characteristics has led to questions of whether the two disorders can be reliably differentiated in terms of symptom profiles. Hence, the current research being undertaken to distinguish attributes that separate the disorders from one another is critically reviewed in the light of two opposing constructs; the first being that autism and Asperger's Syndrome are distinct disorders with differing clinical features, the second being the idea of the two disorders exist on a continuum differing only in terms of severity. The review found that the contradictions in the literature have made it difficult for reliable diagnoses to be made and that research needs to focus on finding clear indicators that can either objectively separate the two disorders or conclusively argue that they cannot be differentially diagnosed based on their symptom profiles.
The aim of this literature review is to critically examine the identification and diagnosis of autism and Asperger's Syndrome in the context of recognised general difficulties that are associated with the diagnosis of mental disorders. The development of diagnostic criteria and identifying markers which differentiate the two disorders are examined. In particular, the review focuses on the difficulty in accurately diagnosing individuals with pervasive developmental disorders and of the current research being undertaken to distinguish attributes that reliably separate the disorders from one another.

Item Type: Thesis - Coursework Master
Authors/Creators:Le Fevre, CH
Keywords: Autism, Asperger's syndrome, Autism spectrum disorders, Categorization (Psychology)
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2009 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Thesis (MPsyc(Clin))--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references

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