Asperger’s Syndrome is a condition which falls on the ‘autism spectrum’. In the past, this condition was kept separate to what is traditionally known as autism. However, In DSM 5 autism is a single diagnosis with levels used to indicate severity. Asperger’s syndrome is a less-severe form of autism. It falls lower down on the autism spectrum. On this page, we are going to look at a few of the key differences between Asperger’s Syndrome and what is known as ‘classic autism’. We will also look at how Asperger’s Syndrome is defined.
Perhaps the biggest difference between Asperger’s Syndrome and classic autism is the fact that those who suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome tend to be, for the most part, fully ‘functional’. This means that they do not suffer from language issues, cognitive issues, or any sort of learning disability. If they do, then it is not really tied to the Asperger’s Syndrome. The symptoms, at least in comparison to classic autism, tend to be less pronounced. In fact, some people have symptoms which are so mild they are not diagnosed with the condition until adulthood, some never even being diagnosed.
It is worth noting at this stage that no one who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome is the same as another sufferer. The symptoms are very broad and each person will function in their own unique way, just like those who are not on the autism spectrum. This means that if you know somebody suffering from the condition now, it does not necessarily mean that you understand the way in which another person that suffers from the condition is.
Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome may include:
- The desire to work alone. Many people who suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome, particularly during the early years of their life, find it very tough to associate with other people. They try, but normally it results in them working on their own, simply because the social interaction is far too difficult for them.
- A person with Asperger’s Syndrome may have difficulty in holding conversations. When in a conversation, they may also find it tough to know when they should be speaking, often talking over the other person.
- The way in which they speak may be slightly different. Many people who suffer from the condition have a very ‘formal’ way of speaking. They may even use words that they do not yet fully understand, or just use them in the completely wrong places.
- They have difficulty doing things which require imagination. This may mean playing ‘make believe’ with other children.
- Motor skills may be poor. One of the tests that a doctor carries out will normally be focused on asking the child to catch a ball. Others may have difficulty using cutlery.
- They may be highly sensitive to lights or loud noises.
- They may be unable to ascertain somebody’s motives from the way in which they talk. For example, they will be unable to detect changes in the tone a person uses. This means that they will get the ‘wrong end of the stick’ during conversations.
- They will often have limited interests, but what they are interested in, they will be very interested in it. It is common for somebody suffering from the condition to collect something, or just talk about something very specific for hours on end.
- They may lack empathy for some things.
As a child gets older, they may learn to ‘cope’ with their Asperger’s Syndrome. Many of those that suffer from the condition will learn the social skills that they were lacking early on in their life. Of course, there may still be some issues, namely communicating and interpreting behaviour, but they will generally find it easier to socialise.
The problem with Asperger’s Syndrome is that the signs and symptoms of the condition can be found in people that do not even have the condition. It is fair to say that doctors have become a bit more liberal in recent years with their diagnosis, most likely down to a broadening of the autism spectrum. Doctors will look at the signs and symptoms highlighted above. They will then make an educated diagnosis as to whether Asperger’s Syndrome is the correct diagnosis to give, normally this will require observation of several of the symptoms highlighted above.