High-functioning autism vs. Asperger's

Learn about: High-functioning autism vs. Asperger's from Allison Kawa, PsyD,...
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High-functioning autism vs. Asperger's

When we think about high-functioning autism, usually what we’re talking about would be children who have an average or above average IQ and children who are able to function in a mainstream or general education setting. The question becomes what’s the difference between high-functioning autism and Asperger’s. And the truth is that by the time children are 8 or 9 years old, we really can’t tell the difference. The two different disorders manifest in different ways, in that autism is associated with a language delay, whereas Asperger’s disorder is not associated with a language delay. However, by the time the children are 8 or 9 years old, they’ve developed their speech and typically their social issues and behavioral issues are pretty similar.

Learn about: High-functioning autism vs. Asperger's from Allison Kawa, PsyD,...


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Allison Kawa, PsyD

Child Psychologist

Alison Kawa is a licensed child psychologist specializing in the evaluation of children and adolescents.  Her pre- and post-doctoral training emphasized child and adolescent testing.  She was a fellow in the UCLA Autism Evaluation Clinic where she acquired extensive training in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders and a range of other developmental disorders.  During this time, she also obtained certification from the University of Michigan Autism and Communication Disorders Center (UMACC) on the gold standard instruments (i.e., ADI-R and ADOS) used in autism evaluations.  Following her fellowship, she became Senior Assessor at UCLA where she worked for four years.

Alison completed the PsychoEducational Diagnostic Services Program (PEDS) Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Pediatric Assessment at the Reiss Davis Child Study Center at Vista Del Mar.  In this setting, she conducted comprehensive psychoeducational evaluations for children and adolescents with a diverse range of issues including ADHD, Learning Disabilities, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders.  She also completed the Child Therapy in a School Setting program offered by Phillips Graduate Institute, where she gained training and experience in play therapy, social skills groups, and therapeutic interventions appropriate for adolescents. 

While completing her graduate training in psychology, she held a staff position at Working With Autism, Inc., where she worked individually with children with autism, provided case management and supervision, and developed and implemented a staff-training curriculum.  It was through this position that she acquired a love for teaching and training. In addition to her private practice, she teaches pre- and post-doctoral fellows at the Reiss Davis Child Study Center at Vista Del Mar, where she also works as a supervisor and consultant.

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