What is the Difference Between Asperger's and Autism?

Children with autism form obsessive attachments to people and objects.
A child with either Asperger's or autism may have difficulty socializing and making friends.
A toddler with autism may cry excessively or for no apparent reason.
Many children and teens with Asperger's syndrome are highly intelligent.
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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2014
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There is a great deal of confusion when it comes to the differences between Asperger's and autism. It seems that even medical professionals have difficulty determining a clear line between the two conditions. Often, it boils down to simply categorizing people according to the specific traits they exhibit, such as how they use language. However, there are some people who assert that Asperger's and autism are actually the same condition and should both fall under the heading of autism.

It's important to understand pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) when trying to determine the differences (or lack thereof) between Asperger'sand autism. PDDs are neurobiolocal disorders that include a wide spectrum of conditions, including Asperger's and autism. PDDS are marked by much delayed or significantly lacking social and language skills. A person with a PDD will usually have problems communicating with others and understanding language. Often, people with these conditions ignore or fail to understand facial expressions, and they may not make eye contact as most people expect in social situations.

Autism is the most well known of the conditions classified as PDDs. Autistic people look just like everyone else. It is their behavior that is different, and they appear withdrawn and often resist change. They tend to throw tantrums, shake, flap or move their bodies in odd ways and laugh or cry for what seems like no reason.

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People with autism may play in a way that it considered odd and exhibit obsessive attachments to certain objects. They may act as if they are deaf, ignore verbal cues, repeat certain words over and over again, or be entirely non-verbal. In those who are verbal, a lack of ability to start a conversation is often evident.

Asperger's Syndrome is often considered within the spectrum of autism. A person with Asperger's may exhibit odd or abnormal verbal communication skills. He may also avoid peer relationships, lack interest in others, fail to return emotional feelings, form obsessive attachments to subjects of interest and have repetitive behaviors. He may exhibit repetitive movements, such as flapping or twisting. Interestingly, people with Asperger's generally do not experience delays in language or cognitive development, and they are often very curious about their environment.

It is important to note that not all people with Asperger's and autism lack the ability to function normally. Some are considered highly functioning and are capable of caring for themselves and interacting socially. However, these people are usually seen as odd or eccentric because they still have behaviors that don't mesh with what most people consider normal.

Since Asperger's and autism are seen as so similar, some people draw a line between the two at language development and social awareness. It seems that those with Asperger's Syndrome typically have more normal language development, though many still have disordered language and communication skills. People with Asperger's also tend to be more interested in and aware of social interactions than those with autism. However, social skills must be taught and even practiced, as they generally don't come naturally to people with this syndrome.

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anon269868
Post 6

I just wanted to say that my Aunt who was diagnosed heavily with Asperger's died last week after committing suicide.

If you can read this post in heaven, I want to say that I'm sorry for what happened the night before you left. I love you. I love you. I love you. I'm sorry.

anon228412
Post 5

My daughter is diagnosed officially with PDD-NOS. They are leaning more toward Asperger's now. She can keep eye contact if continually prompted and she interacts with her peers briefly. She says she wishes she had friends but when she is around other children she withdraws and only plays alone.

Her communication skills are fine. It's her social behaviors that are problematic. he behaves more like a 4 year old than the 8 year old she is but she is very intelligent. She absorbs information like a sponge and is very loving with me and a few other members of the family.

I don't know by which process she decides who she is going to let people in, but she won't communicate much with some people in our family. She also struggles with empathy. She tries to climb on me like a much younger child and hurts me and doesn't understand why I am in pain. It's a struggle. She makes progress and then regresses when there are changes, but I feel like one day she will be ready to stand on her own two feet.

anon115692
Post 4

I feel that autism is not on the rise as it is stated so frequently as of late. I feel that it has always been prevalent but went undiagnosed. I can think of loads of peers I went to school with (I am now 42) who fit the Aspergers/Autistic description - even I myself fit the picture.

I have a nephew who is autistic, not severely but will probably never be independent either. I feel autism runs in the family and I can pinpoint in several relatives now. It seems to just get more symptomatic as generations go by.

anon109290
Post 3

My son was not what you would call a typical autistic. His language skills over time became better, as well as his physical co-ordination.

What was truly remarkable about him was he had great

empathy for others, especially for those in distress. Tragically, a little over five years ago he

was struck and killed by a car chasing after a train. The last two weeks of his life his obsessions

had become more pronounced, which to me, should have warned me of what was to come. All I can say now is

I miss him and I still love him.

Sunny27
Post 2

Cafe41- I just wanted to add that some children with Aspergers are highly intelligent. Some of these children have learning disabilities but are also gifted.

Sometimes if the child excels academically it may be harder to convince the school district that the child needs special services. Often doctor’s notes have to come into play.

cafe41
Post 1

I just want to add that my daughter had a friend in kindergarten that was diagnosed with being on the autistic spectrum.

He stuttered often and had to go to speech therapy. He also would not make eye contact and sometimes would rock back and forth.

This boy also had sensory processing disorder which many autistic children have. He had the hardest time learning to read because he could not process the sounds related in phonics lessons. He was a sweet little boy but he just had some difficulties in school.

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