IN CELEBRATION of World Autism Day, today, it is relevant to consider the needs of a particular subgroup of autism, namely children with Asperger's syndrome.

Children and young people with Asperger's usually have significant difficulties in social interaction, restricted, stereotyped patterns of behaviour and interests, and unusual language abilities. Often, they have an atypical profile of learning abilities and a difficulty in maintaining attention in class.

Their apparent 'oddness' can lead to teasing, social isolation and possible mental health problems.

Most professionals agree that early diagnosis offers the best outcome. The most appropriate treatment is a package of measures - depending on the needs of the child - which includes training in social skills, social communication intervention and therapy to reduce the number of obsessive interests.

However, perhaps we should as a society, instead of labelling the difference, rather celebrate the diversity of human talents and way of being.

In the world of maths, computing, engineering, cataloguing and science there is great value in a precise eye for details which many people with Asperger's have.

For parents of children with Asperger's the choice of school is all important. Many children with Asperger's are educated in mainstream schools. A smaller number attend specialist schools. Whatever school is chosen by parents, it will need to celebrate diversity, to have an inclusion policy which is genuine rather than illusory and which meets the child's special needs in an holistic and caring way.

I have written a free factsheet on Asperger's which can be downloaded from the Appleford School website or you can write to Aspergers Factsheet, Appleford School, Shrewton, Wiltshire SP3 4HL.

Dr Peter Gardner Chartered Psychologist British Psychological Society Registered Psychotherapist (U.K.C.P.)

Co-founder, Appleford School