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Differences between Asperger’s Syndrome and Typical Autism: A Closer Look at Autism Spectrum Disorder


Many people use the terms Asperger’s syndrome and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) interchangeably. Asperger’s syndrome was formerly thought to be distinct from ASD. However, an Asperger’s diagnosis is no longer listed in the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition). The symptoms and indications once associated with an Asperger’s diagnosis are now classified as ASD.

Historically, the terms “Asperger’s” and “autism” have different meanings. However, it’s worth delving into what Asperger’s syndrome is and why it’s now included under ASD. Keep scrolling to learn about the difference between Asperger’s syndrome and autism.

What Is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Until recently, Asperger’s syndrome was considered a “mild” or “high-functioning” variant of autism. This is because people with Asperger’s syndrome exhibited autistic behaviors that were often only slightly different from those of neurotypicals (i.e., non-autistic people)

In 1994, the DSM included Asperger’s syndrome for the first time. This diagnosis was added after the English psychotherapist Lorna Wing interpreted the works of Austrian doctor Hans Asperger. She discovered that his study revealed different traits in autistic youngsters compared to those with “milder” symptoms.

Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome

Here are some crucial symptoms that help you determine whether someone has Asperger’s syndrome:

  • Reading facial emotions or body language may be difficult
  • Hyperfocus
  • Recognizing social cues is a challenge
  • Problems with coordination and motor abilities

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder is a brain development disorder that affects how people view and interact with others. This disorder results in communication and interaction issues. Restricted and repetitive forms of conduct are also part of the disorder. In ASD, the term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity.

Autism spectrum disorder encompasses symptoms such as those of autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder. Some people still refer to ASD as “Asperger’s syndrome,” which is considered to be on the milder end of the spectrum.

ASD manifests itself in early life and often leads to social, educational, and occupational difficulties. Signs of ASD appear in infants as early as the first year of life. A small percentage of children appear to develop normally in the first year but regress between 18 and 24 months when they begin to show signs of autism.

Symptoms Of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Some of the key symptoms of ASD are:

  • Sensory experiences are processed differently
  • Distinctions in cognitive styles and approaches to problem-solving
  • Profound and long-term specialized interests
  • Repetitive motions or behaviors
  • Strong desire to stick to a schedule or established order
  • Difficulties digesting information or engaging in neurotypical social interactions
  • Trouble with verbal and nonverbal communication processing and production

Differences between Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorder

In the DSM-5, released in 2013, Asperger’s syndrome is no longer a separate diagnosis. Now, anyone diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome based on criteria from prior editions of the manual has a revised diagnosis of ASD.

Asperger’s symptoms are now classified as ASD, a continuum of recurrent communication and behavior patterns. However, many persons diagnosed with Asperger’s before the shift may still prefer the old diagnostic label.

The main distinction between Asperger’s syndrome and ASD is that persons with Asperger’s are more likely to:

  • Have highly developed language abilities and no language deficits while displaying lesser signs of autism
  • Require minimal daily assistance and may not receive a diagnosis until later in life.

Wrapping It Up

The most crucial point to remember is that Asperger’s syndrome is no longer an active diagnostic term. The symptoms previously used to diagnose it now result in an ASD diagnosis.

Also, just because you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ASD doesn’t mean you have a “condition” that must be “treated.” The most important thing is that you accept and love yourself or anybody you know who is autistic.

Understanding the complexities of ASD might help you realize that each person’s experience with the disorder is unique. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.

If you or someone you know experiences mental health issues, it is important to seek help from a qualified professional. Our Resource Specialist can help you find expert mental health resources to recover in your community. Contact us now for more information on this free service to our users.

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About the Author: Alisha Jones is an online entrepreneur by profession and passionate blogger by heart. She is on a mission to help digital businesses grow online. She shares her journey, insights, and experiences at Social Media Magazine, Search Engine Magazine, Smart Business Daily. If you are an entrepreneur, digital marketing professional, or simply an info-holic, this blog is for you.

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The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.

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