1. What is Asperger Syndrome?

2. Who’s Welcome at Our Meetings?

3. The Nature of the Group.

1. What is Asperger Syndrome?

  Our e-friend Barb Kirby gives a common sense definition. The DSM-IV (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual #4) provides the old “official” definition or diagnostic criteria. Other diagnostic criteria are provided by the World Health OrganizationGilberg & Gilberg, and Szatmari et al. One of our favorite clinicians, Tony Attwood, also has an good explanation.

⇒ for the definition of Autism Spectrum Disorders, see this link

⇒  We see such diagnostic criteria as working hypotheses or descriptions which can us help to communicate with care-givers and insurance companies, to clarify discussion, and to guide treatment. The definitions change as new research occurs (or the DSM’s committees come to new decisions), so we are not wedded to any of them. The fact that the newest DSM dropped Asperger Syndrome from its list does not perturb us at all.

⇒ It is very important to remember that no individual fits the AS diagnosis exactly. The diagnosis does not define the person.

⇒ For a wealth of information on Asperger Syndrome, see reader-friendly books by Tony Attwood and by Brenda Smith Myles & Richard L. Simpson. There are many books about AS and you can find them by searching on the web. JKP publishes a new one almost every month.

⇒ For group discussion, we believe (to quote Tony Attwood) that the difference between Asperger Syndrome and high-functioning autism (HFA) is that they’re spelled differently. Outside of academic research seminars, most discussions concerning the differences between them are a waste of time. Click here to see an old comparison from the Autism Society’s home page.

⇒  AS and HFA are neighboring parts of the same spectrum, like indigo and violet. They also seem similar to “Pervasive Development Disorder-NOS” and “Non-Verbal Learning Disorder” (and the others listed on the “about us” page). It should be remembered that people with AS (or any similar conditions) often have other symptoms, such as attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.It’s sometimes difficult to separate these conditions and the issues they imply.

2. Who’s Welcome at Our Meetings?

⇒  All folks interested in Asperger Syndrome (AS) are welcome. But note that the LAASPSG is specifically for the parents or guardians or spouses or lovers (etc.) of children (of whatever age), friends, and relatives with AS or related disorders. If you believe that your loved one may have AS, you are welcome to attend our meetings to find out if you’re right.

⇒ Please do not bring your children and immature teens to the meeting (unless it’s noted otherwise in our announcements), since it may interfere with the ability of adults to talk to each other. Adult children and mature teens are of course welcome. We do not provide day care.

⇒ People with AS themselves are encouraged to instead attend either AGUA Classic (where the initials stand for Adults Gathering, United and Autistic) or GRASP (the Global and Regional Asperger Partnership) or both. Local branches of the Autism Society sometimes have adult support groups.

  • AGUA (Adults Gathering, United and Autistic) Classic. AGUA Classic is a friendly self-advocacy support group for adults with autism or Asperger Syndrome. Meetings are held on the first Saturday of the month, location varies. See their Website for more information.  E-mail: aguaclassic@earthlink.net.
  • GRASP/Los Angeles (the local branch of GRASP) meets monthly in the same Vista del Mar campus where we meet – at the same time  on the same day.  Their location is in a different community room in the same building as ours, the Outpatient Treatment Center at Vista Del Mar, 3200 Motor Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90034-3740. So it’s possible for different members of a family to attend two meetings at the same time! 

⇒ Teachers and mental-health professionals are also welcome. But reporters, students, or researchers who want to attend our meetings should talk to Jim or Fran beforehand (at 310 636-0101). Fran’s office phone is 323 361-3831, while Jim’s is 310 338-2948. We have some rules: You must  (1) tell people that you are a student, researcher, or reporter when we do group introductions; (2) plan to stay for the entire meeting; (3) not take notes during the meeting, since our meetings are confidential; (4) not promote your service or product at our meetings (but you may add your literature to our resource table).

3. The Nature of the Group.

⇒ There are no membership requirements or fees for attendance. Of course, the bringing of pastries is always appreciated.

⇒ We are not a 12-step or a “recovery” group. Rather, our group provides a place where parents can give information and support to each other. Everything said will be held in the strictest of confidence. The group is totally non-commercial. In fact, we do not even have a budget.

⇒ Fran and Jim are not M.D.s in psychiatry or Ph.D.s in psychology but are parents of a child with AS. Fran is a professional health educator, while Jim is a professional economist who has his own tendencies toward AS. He will tell you all about them at length in a tedious monotone if you make the mistake of asking him about them.

⇒ Unfortunately, we cannot provide childcare while our meetings are only in English. Some people have brought their own translators.

⇒ Everything said at our meetings is kept in total confidence, while our e-mailing lists are totally secret.

⇒ The organizers of the group are Jim Devine and Fran Goldfarb. Call us for information about Asperger Syndrome or about our support group at 310 636-0101. This is our home phone. Call only after 7 a.m. and before 9 p.m., please. Also, we sleep late on weekends.

⇒  Our main e-mail address is laasperger@gmail.com. However, you can contact Jim at  jdevine@lmu.edu and Fran at beadsme@verizon.net. For e-mails, please use the word “Asperger” in the subject line, so that it’s easier to separate your wheat from the chaff of spam.

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