Autism vs. Asperger’s

What is Asperger Syndrome?

Asperger syndrome (also known as Asperger’s or AS) was coined in the 1940s by Hans Asperger, and he used it to describe individuals who have “autism-like behaviors and difficulties with social and communication.” Since then, many believe that AS is simply a milder form of autism and use the term “high-functioning autism” instead.[1]

However, Asperger syndrome is no longer a formal diagnosis. Along with the publication of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in 2013, the four pervasive developmental disorders (autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified) were placed under one umbrella diagnosis: autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Therefore, those who would have gotten diagnosed with Asperger’s in the past are now simply diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or, more specifically, high-functioning autism.[1]

One major difference that has been used to differentiate between Asperger syndrome and classic autism is that there is no speech delay in Asperger’s. Often times, people with AS excel in their language abilities, but they may struggle to grasp the subtleties of language, such as misunderstanding irony and humor or taking idioms literally.[1]

Another distinction between Asperger’s and classic autism concerns their cognitive abilities. While some people on the spectrum have intellectual disabilities, a person with Asperger’s cannot have a cognitive delay, and most possess average to above-average intelligence.[1]

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  1. Autism Society (2016). Asperger’s Syndrome. Retrieved from