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Asperger's Syndrome Versus Autism: What Are the Differences?

By HERWriter
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Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism are not the same, but they do have similar qualities.

In fact, people with Asperger’s were thought to have a mild form of autism at one point, since the disorder was only discovered in 1944 by Hans Asperger, according to an abnormal psychology text book.

Despite the discovery in the 1940s, Asperger’s disorder was not separated from autism until the early 1980s because of Lorna Wing’s recommendation, the text book stated.

Some people still refer to Asperger’s as “high-functioning autism” or a mild form of autism. For example, in the book “Asperger’s and Self-Esteem: Insight and Hope Through Famous Role Models,” by Norm Ledgin, the preface refers to Asperger’s as high-functioning autism.

In the foreword of the same book, Tempe Grandin wrote, “I was diagnosed with autism because I had delayed speech. Children diagnosed with Asperger’s are a milder variant, and speech development is usually within the normal range.”

The main differences between Asperger’s and autism are that people with Asperger’s disorder “have normal intelligence and verbal skills,” according to Discovery Health. There is not generally a language delay, like not speaking or having major difficulties speaking. However, they still may have problems with some aspects of language.

For example, “They may be very literal and have trouble understanding facial expressions or body language,” according to Discovery Health.

Also, those with autism don’t necessarily want to interact with others and appear to be “aloof and uninterested.” Those with Asperger’s have more of a desire to “fit in” and interact with others but are limited by their language difficulties, according to Discovery Health. They might not have eye contact as well.

Discovery Health’s Web site also stated that “Asperger syndrome is more likely to:
• appear later in a child's development
• see a more positive outcome
• bring about less severe social and communication difficulties
• bring about more prominent and singular obsessions
• result in higher verbal IQ
• result in lower performance IQ
• increase "clumsiness"
• decrease instances of related neurological disorders”

Going back to the language abilities of those with Asperger’s, they may use more formal language and not understand certain aspects of a conversation, like irony. They may also speak in tones or pitches that are awkward in a conversation, according to the Autism Society.

Other differences are that people with autism sometimes have a lower intelligence than those without autism, whereas people with Asperger’s generally have an average to above average intelligence, according to the Autism Society.

For more information, check out the sources below.

“Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach,” by David Barlow and Mark Durand





Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Autism affects on three major areas like communicative skills, social skills and in the cyclic and limited behaviors. They give irregular reply to the sensations. Because of autism, kids behave abnormally connecting with peoples, events or with the objects.
Mild autism

March 16, 2011 - 10:42pm
EmpowHER Guest

Autism and Aspergers are on a spectrum. The DSM definition is based on when speech occurred. Autism is marked by delayed speech development. However, even with delayed speech development, they can become “High functioning” equal to or beyond those who are diagnosed with Asperger. The DSM is based on observable behaviors and not on neurological development. It is possible for someone to develop to the point where they no longer meet the diagnostic criteria for the diagnosis. How someone is labeled influences how society frames individuals. Most if not all labels pigeon hole individuals into a negative frame of reference. From a resilience framework, the differences can be strengths and abilities. I think the reason you may not be able to see point of this article is that there is not much of a point.

March 25, 2010 - 11:47am
EmpowHER Guest

I can't really see the point of the article I am afraid. I have been diagnosed as having Asperger Syndrome but could equally as well be diagnosed with high-functioning autism. I actually use both terms interchangeably because my experience has been the other diagnosed people I know have more in common than the ones who havent been diagnosed at all, regardless of diagnosis (Aspergers vs Autism). In otherwords, it seems to be dependant on the mood of the person doing the diagnosis and there ARE no clear cut boundaries as you state.
Add to that, that DSM V will ignore Aspergers completely and simply call it all autism and the world becomes a lot simpler.

March 25, 2010 - 10:28am
(reply to Anonymous)

my husband and children are aspergers.they are not high functioning autism,the clinical diagnosis from top psychologist in U/K. IS ASPERGERS.i work in a special school ,with aspergers and autistic children,the children at the school with diagnosis of aspergers apear to the world as normal.they all have average or above I Q.develope at normal speed.just bad communication and behaviour skills single them out,the autistic children present as slow learners,delayed speech.below average I Q.there are sometimes problems with diagnosis,here in u/k.some are diagnosed too young.when you say these things the parents of autistic children can get very cross .but its what i see every day,at a big special needs school.some parents see it as a put down,its not meant to be,you have to be honest,here in u/k,its all classed as learning difficulties.i believe in america it comes under mental health,

February 3, 2011 - 2:19pm
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