Asperger’s Syndrome

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In this 27th English corner, you will find a consultation dealing with Asperger’s Syndrome. In this contribution, we will provide a brief historical background and a couple of exercises to work on relevant vocabulary, grammar, syntax... We would like to remind you that our aim is not to teach medicine but to familiarize readers with medical English as used by professionals and patients. 

Asperger’s Syndrome

Dr. Hans: Good afternoon, Ms Asparagus. Your GP has suggested you come to see me about your son, Michael. Could you tell me in your own words what makes you think that Michael has a problem?
Ms. Asparagus: Yes, of course, Doctor. Michael has just turned two years old and he doesn’t seem to be like other children of his age. First of all, he only ever says a couple of words. My friend’s daughter, who’s not quite two, uses lots of words and is learning new expressions every day. And when I go round to her place, her daughter seems keen to play with Michael, but Michael just grabs hold of me and buries his face in my clothes.
Dr. Hans: I see. You must remember though, Ms Asparagus, that children don’t develop in the same way at the same speed. There can be quite big differences, and girls tend to develop communication skills faster, especially word production. Tell me, do you talk to your son a lot, read him stories, explain things to him, play games with him?
Ms. Asparagus: Yes, I think so. It’s not always easy, though, because he throws tantrums quite often.
Dr. Hans: Can you give me an example of when he’s likely to throw a tantrum?
Ms. Asparagus: Well, at bedtime, I read him a story to settle him, and he enjoys this, but it’s always the same book, if I try to change the story, he gets very upset and starts screaming, so I get the same old story and he calms down immediately.
Dr. Hans: And what about meal times, can you describe them for me?
Ms. Asparagus: It depends. If I give him his favourite meal – mashed potatoes and diced ham, – everything goes well, but if I try to give him any kind of vegetable or fish, more tantrums. 
Dr. Hans: That’s pretty frequent.
Ms. Asparagus: Yes, I know, but his tantrums are uncontrollable, I’m at my wits’ end. It’s the same when I turn on the vacuum cleaner. He just screams and screams, so I don’t use it any more.
Dr. Hans: I understand. How does he interact with his father?
Ms. Asparagus: Unfortunately, my husband has a very demanding job, so he leaves early in the morning and comes back after Michael’s in bed. The weekend is the only time we have together. He tries to play with Michael, but feels very frustrated by the lack of any response. Michael will just sit there pushing his little toy car back and to. I think he’d do it for hours if we didn’t try to interest him in other toys.
Dr. Hans: Thank you Ms Asparagus for your descriptions, they’ve been very helpful and I think I ought to examine your son. Before we fix an appointment, could we just go through this questionnaire together? It’s called the M-CHAT, which means the modified checklist for autism in toddlers.
Ms. Asparagus: Autism! I thought that he might be suffering from autism.
Dr. Hans: We don’t know that yet. There are some behaviour patterns that suggest an ASD. Sorry, that’s Autism Spectrum Disorder. You may have heard of Asperger’s syndrome, a common form of autism. But we need to do a thorough examination before we can be sure.
Can you bring your son at the same time next week for an assessment? I’d like to see your husband too, if that’s possible. 
Ms. Asparagus: That’s fine for me and my husband will do what’s necessary to come as well.
Dr. Hans: Very good. So can we go through this questionnaire….


Find in the text a word or expression (in bold) equivalent to the words or expressions below
1.    primary care doctor
2.    has just reached
3.    two or three
4.    to her home
5.    enthusiastic
6.    seizes
7.    hides
8.    however
9.    rhythm
10.    abilities
11.    gets angry
12.    calm down
13.    frustrated
14.    crying loudly
15.    breakfast, lunch and dinner
16.    pureed
17.    cut into cubes
18.    i don’t know what to do
19.    hoover
20.    time-consuming
21.    absence of
22.    backwards and forwards 
23.    useful
24.    consultation
25.    children learning to walk
26.    way of acting
27.    complete, comprehensive
28.    evaluation
29.    complete


A brief historical background

Asperger's syndrome is named after Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger (1906-1980), who first described it and called it autistic psychopathy in 1944 (autism is derived from the Greek autos, meaning self). When he was young, he studied medicine in Austria, earned his medical degree and became director of special education at a childrens’ clinic. His career was controversial since he was involved in the Nazi regime and was appointed to his high position over Jewish doctors.
As a pediatrician, he identified in four boys, behaviour and abilities that included a lack of empathy, impaired ability to form friendships, one-sided conversations, obsessive interest in a specific subject, and clumsy movements. He often quoted himself, and sometimes referred to himself in the third person, thus presenting the symptoms of the condition that was subsequently named after him.
Asperger's work did not gain international recognition during his life because much of his early research was destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944 and his findings were only translated into English after his death in 1980. Since 1981, when Lorna Wing coined the term Asperger’s syndrome, his findings have become a reference worldwide. 
Asperger once wrote: "The example of autism shows particularly well how even abnormal personalities can be capable of development and adjustment. Possibilities of social integration which one would never have dreamt of may arise in the course of development." [Hans Asperger, Autistic psychopathy in Childhood, 1944] 


Translate the following eponymous diseases into English .
1. la maladie de Hodgkin
2. la trisomie  21
3. la maladie de Lyme
4. la maladie de Basedow
5. la maladie de Parkinson
6. la maladie d'Alzheimer
7. la maladie des griffes du chat
8. le syndrome de Wolff-Parkinson-White
9. le syndrome des jambes sans repos


Match the following definitions with the syndrome they describe.

1.    A psychiatric syndrome in which symptoms of a delusional belief and sometimes hallucinations are transmitted from one individual to another.
2.    Glomerular damage leading to hematuria, pyuria, water retention, and subsequent hypertension and edema.
3.    A rare genetic disorder characterised by its effects on skin and joints.
4.    A disorder due to a specific type of problem with the electrical system of the heart which results in an abnormally fast heartbeat, palpitations, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, or syncope.
5.    A syndrome usually associated with physical growth delays, mild to moderate intellectual disability, and characteristic facial features.
6.    A set of symptoms occurring in discontinuation or dosage reduction of some types of medications and recreational drugs.
7.    A factitious disorder wherein those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma to  draw attention, sympathy, or reassurance to themselves. 
8.    A medical condition in which spasms of arteries cause episodes of reduced blood flow.

A.    Munchausen syndrome 
B.    Folie à deux (shared psychosis) 
C.    Nephritic syndrome
D.    PAPA syndrome  (pyogenic arthritis, pyoderma gangrenosum and acne)
E.    Down’s syndrome
F.    Wolff–Parkinson–White syndrome (WPWS) 
G.    Withdrawal syndrome
H.    Raynaud syndrome

Didier CARNET, Jean-Pierre CHARPY, Philip BASTABLE

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