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NLD and Asperger's Disorder

Joe Palombo

Nonverbal Learning Disabilities, Chapter 11, pages 205-218

Intrapersonal Features of NLD and Asperger's Disorder

The differences between the two disorders are most marked in the intrapersonal domain. I alluded earlier to the differences in mindsharing capacities. It is sufficient here to reiterate that children with Asperger’s disorder have serious limitations in those capacities. Although they are capable of using language to communicate, their capacities for imaginative play are limited, as is their appreciation of the feelings of others. They may be able to form secure attachments, but those appear based on their desire to have their needs satisfied. These constraints contrast with the capabilities of children with NLDs for language communication and imaginative play, which are limited at times but remain functional.

The sense of self in children with Asperger’s disorder lacks cohesion and central coherence, in contrast to children with NLDs who are capable of varying degrees of self-cohesion. The evidence that children with Asperger's disorder can act as independent centers of initiative (see Atwood 1998; Cassidy, 2004; Happe, 1991; Nesic-Vuckovik, 2004) is lacking. These children lack the ability to formulate life goals, to achieve those goals, and to participate in the transactions of their community. Most of all, they lack the ability to develop a coherent self-narrative. They have little sense of their history or of their place in their community. The tragedy of these children is that although they are not as seriously impaired as children with autism, they cannot fit comfortably into a society that demands competence, efficiency, and sophisticated social skills to survive psychologically.