In 1944 Hans Asperger, an Austrian physician, published an account describing children with
impaired social interactions and communication. Today the term Asperger's Disorder is currently defined by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), in the fourth
edition of their diagnostic manual: "Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders" (DSM-IV).
1994 was the first year Asperger's Disorder appeared in the DSM manual. While this formal definition
is relatively new to the American professional community, it has been accepted by some European professionals since the
publication of Hans Asperger's paper.
In the DSM-IV manual, Asperger's is one of five disorders defined under the category of Pervasive Developmental Disorder.
The other four disorders are Autistic Disorder, Rett's Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Pervasive
Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified - PDDNOS. According to the DSM-IV, the
criteria for Asperger's are as follows:
A) Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of
1. marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye
gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social
2. failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
3. a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements
with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects
of interest to other people)
4. lack of social or emotional reciprocity.
(B) Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and
activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:
1. encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns
of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
2. apparently inflexible adherence to specific, non-functional routines or
3. stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or
twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
4. persistent preoccupation with parts of objects
(C) The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational,
or other important areas of functioning.
(D) There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words
used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years)
(E) There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the
development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in
social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood.
(F) Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or