Denise Drum

Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is a type of pervasive development disorder (PDD). PDDs are a set of conditions that involve delays in the development of basic skills, particularly the ability to socialize with other and to communicate (WedMD). Moral development is highly debated when compared with those who are diagnosed with AS. Most people who are diagnosed with AS typically stay within the first two levels of Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development but do not enter into Piaget’s theory of Moral Development.

In Kohlberg’s theory, level one or the preconventional ethics level, consists of stage one (punishment-obedience) and stage two (market exchange). These stages consist of getting caught, either doing something right or wrong, and being recognized for it, even though they do not understand why it was right or wrong (Eggen & Kauchak, 82). Those diagnosed with AS are unable to fully understand the rules that have been set by others. They find themselves doing only what suites the self, having a hard time picking up on social cues, having one-sided conversations, thriving on repetition and having difficulty in social situations due to their lack of ability to completely understand conventionality.

Level two or the conventional ethics level, consists of stages three (interpersonal harmony) and stage four (law and order). This is where children, and those with AS, typically begin to make ethical decisions based on what others are thinking and feeling (Eggen & Kauchak, 83). They find that pleasing the group and going along with the majority opinion is most important. Those diagnosed with AS will not reach stage four or beyond, they do not understand why rules are made and therefore will not obey rules for their own sake. People diagnosed with AS also will not reach level three or the postconventional ethics level because rules must be obeyed and completely understood to reach this level.

Piaget’s theory of Moral Development states that children’s responses to moral problems could be divided into two stages (Eggen & Kauchak, 81). People diagnosed with AS do not enter stage one, or external morality, because they do not view rules as fixed. In stage two, or autonomous morality, children should develop ideas about how to correctly treat people. Those with AS tend to side with majority rule and do not develop, on their own, ideas about how to treat people.

Trying to place people who have been diagnosed with AS into well-defined morality categories can prove to be challenging. They do not completely understand the “golden rule” and other morality issues that many other people do, but this does not make them bad people. When we take the time to understand that their motives may be good and realize that they do not naturally understand certain concepts, maybe we can come up with a more accurate representation of the stages of morality.