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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Subjective face recognition difficulties, aberrant sensibility, sleeping disturbances and aberrant eating habits in families with Asperger syndrome

Taina Nieminen-von Wendt1*, Juulia E Paavonen2, Tero Ylisaukko-Oja34, Susan Sarenius1, Tiia Källman1, Irma Järvelä45 and Lennart von Wendt1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Child Neurology, Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland

2 Department of Child Psychiatry, Hospital for Children and Adolescents, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Helsinki, Finland

3 Department of Molecular Medicine, National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland

4 Department of Medical Genetics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

5 Laboratory of Molecular Genetics, Helsinki University Hospital (Laboratory Services), Helsinki, Finland

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BMC Psychiatry 2005, 5:20  doi:10.1186/1471-244X-5-20

Published: 12 April 2005



The present study was undertaken in order to determine whether a set of clinical features, which are not included in the DSM-IV or ICD-10 for Asperger Syndrome (AS), are associated with AS in particular or whether they are merely a familial trait that is not related to the diagnosis.


Ten large families, a total of 138 persons, of whom 58 individuals fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for AS and another 56 did not to fulfill these criteria, were studied using a structured interview focusing on the possible presence of face recognition difficulties, aberrant sensibility and eating habits and sleeping disturbances.


The prevalence for face recognition difficulties was 46.6% in individuals with AS compared with 10.7% in the control group. The corresponding figures for subjectively reported presence of aberrant sensibilities were 91.4% and 46.6%, for sleeping disturbances 48.3% and 23.2% and for aberrant eating habits 60.3% and 14.3%, respectively.


An aberrant processing of sensory information appears to be a common feature in AS. The impact of these and other clinical features that are not incorporated in the ICD-10 and DSM-IV on our understanding of AS may hitherto have been underestimated. These associated clinical traits may well be reflected by the behavioural characteristics of these individuals.