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What is Asperger’s Syndrome and how is it different to Autism?

What is Asperger’s Syndrome and how is it different to Autism?

When suspecting their children might have ASD, parents often ask “What is Asperger’s Syndrome and how is it different to autism?”

Due to some recent changes in the way autism is diagnosed, that question can be difficult to explain. While there are distinct differences in the symptoms and behaviours of people with Asperger’s Syndrome to those with autism, there are also many similarities.

Here’s what you need to know about the similarities and differences between Asperger’s Syndrome and autism.
What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Asperger’s Syndrome was a medical condition first described by paediatrician Hans Asperger in 1944, who observed autism-like behaviours in boys who had regular levels of intelligence and language development.

The question ‘What is Asperger’s Syndrome?’ is multifaceted, as Asperger’s Syndrome isn’t formally diagnosed anymore. In 2013, Asperger’s and autism ceased being medically classified as different conditions. Instead, they are both now tested and classified under the umbrella diagnosis of ASD, or autism spectrum disorder.

Similarities between Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism

While there are some differences between Asperger’s and autism, the disorders share a lot of the same symptoms. These include:

  • Difficulty maintaining eye contact
  • Difficulty understanding body language
  • Difficulty creating and maintaining friendships
  • Difficulty expressing feelings or emotions
  • Sensitivities to certain foods or sounds
  • Issues with motor skills
  • Finding comfort in having strict schedules
  • Obsessing over specific topics

Differences between Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism

There has always been debate in the medical community as to whether Asperger’s Syndrome could be classified as high-functioning autism. With the recent change in the way we diagnose Asperger’s Syndrome, some medical professionals may refer to it as mild autism, high-functioning autism, or indeed, Asperger’s.

Despite this newer classification, many experts believe that children and adults with Asperger’s Syndrome have differing symptoms and behaviours to those with autism. Here are some notable differences you should be aware of.

1. A solid grasp of language
While verbal communication is an early warning sign of autism, many children with Asperger’s Syndrome are quite apt with language and speaking. In fact, children with Asperger’s Syndrome often don’t experience speech delay.

2. High IQ

While kids with autism typically have a below average IQ, those with Asperger’s may have higher-than-normal intelligence.

Many children with Asperger’s Syndrome are often described as intellectually gifted. One sign of Asperger’s is extreme fascination with specific topics, where they become an expert in their field.
While many children with Asperger’s perform exceptionally well academically, some also experience behavioural problems at school.
3. A delay in diagnosis
While the average age of diagnosis for a child with autism is around 4 years of age, due to their solid grasp of language and academic prowess, many children with Asperger’s Syndrome aren’t often diagnosed until much later. In fact, it often isn’t until the adolescence when social behaviour and peer interaction becomes more important that parents notice the challenges their children have.

Despite their differences, autism presents differently in every child, which helps to explain why Asperger’s is now diagnosed as ASD.

If you suspect your child has symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome or autism, make an appointment with your GP. The sooner you can spot an autism spectrum disorder, the sooner your child can benefit from early intervention programs.

For more information about helping children with Asperger’s Syndrome and autism, get in touch with the friendly team at the Lizard Centre today!