Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Because Asperger's syndrome varies widely in severity and signs, making a diagnosis can be difficult. If your child shows some signs of Asperger's syndrome, your doctor may suggest a comprehensive assessment by a team of professionals.

This evaluation will likely include observing your child and talking to you about your child's development. You may be asked about your child's social interaction, communication skills and friendships. Your child may also have a number of tests to determine his or her level of intellect and academic abilities. Tests may examine your child's abilities in the areas of speech, language and visual-motor problem solving. Tests can also identify other emotional, behavioral and psychological issues.

To be diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, your child's signs and symptoms must match the criteria spelled out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a manual published by the American Psychiatric Association and used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions.

Some of the DSM criteria for Asperger's syndrome are:

  • No significant language delays
  • A lack of eye to eye contact
  • Unusual body posture or social expressions
  • Difficulty making friends
  • A preoccupation with one subject
  • No interest in interactive play
  • An inflexible attitude toward change

Unfortunately, some children with Asperger's syndrome may initially be misdiagnosed with another problem, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder, possibly because the symptoms of some conditions are similar to those of Asperger's. Additionally, these other conditions may coexist with Asperger's, which can delay the diagnosis.

Nov. 18, 2010