Asperger Syndrome and Autism
Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, a group of conditions that include autism and other disorders with similar symptoms, such as problems with language and communication, and repetitive or restrictive patterns of thoughts and behavior.
People with Asperger syndrome have autism-like problems in areas of social interaction and communication, but have normal intelligence and verbal skills. Asperger syndrome is usually thought to be the mildest of the autism spectrum disorders.
What are the symptoms of Asperger syndrome?
One of the most distinct symptoms of Asperger syndrome is having an obsessive interest in a single object or topic—so much so that the person ignores other objects, topics, or thoughts.
Unlike some children with autism spectrum disorders, children with Asperger syndrome tend to have good vocabularies and grammar skills. But they usually have other language problems, such as being very literal and having trouble understanding non-verbal communications, such as body language.
Other symptoms of Asperger syndrome may include:
- Obsessive or repetitive routines and rituals.
- Motor-skill problems, such as clumsy or uncoordinated movements and delays in motor skills.
- Social-skill problems, especially related to communicating with others.
- Sensitivity to sensory information, such as light, sound, texture, and taste.
Autism is a complex developmental disability that causes problems with social interaction and communication. Symptoms usually start before age three and can cause delays or problems in many different skills that develop from infancy to adulthood.
What is an autism spectrum disorder?
Different people with autism can have very different symptoms. Health care providers think of autism as a “spectrum” disorder, a group of disorders with similar features. One person may have mild symptoms, while another may have serious symptoms. But they both have an autism spectrum disorder.
*This site uses “autism spectrum disorder” and “autism” to mean the same thing.
What are the symptoms of autism?
The main signs and symptoms of autism involve problems in the following areas:
- Communication - both verbal (spoken) and non-verbal (unspoken, such as pointing, eye contact, and smiling).
- Social - such as sharing emotions, understanding how others think and feel, and holding a conversation.
- Routines or repetitive behaviors (also called stereotyped behaviors) - such as repeating words or actions, obsessively following routines or schedules, and playing in repetitive ways.
The symptoms of autism can usually be observed by 18 months of age.
There are many possible red flags for autism - behaviors that may be signs or symptoms of autism. Some features may mean a delay in one or more areas of development, while others may be more typical of autism spectrum disorders. If you think your child shows red flags for autism, talk to your health care provider.