Asperger’s and autism, especially high-functioning autism, are similar conditions. Whether they are the same disorder or different disorders is a subject of debate. Both are disorders on the autism spectrum, also known as pervasive development disorders, which is a range of conditions that affect the way in which the afflicted individual interacts socially and communicates with others. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders continues to classify Asperger’s and autism as two different disorders as of 2011, with Asperger’s syndrome being described as different than autism because there is no delay in language or cognitive development with Asperger’s.
Those with Asperger’s may read, do math, and show other learning skills at the same age, or even at a younger age, than peers. Those with autism are often significantly delayed in cognitive development. With this description, it often means that two adults may have nearly identical symptoms, but different diagnoses. The adult who experienced early developmental delays may be diagnosed with autism, while the adult who did not have these delays may be diagnosed with Asperger’s. There are other ways in which Asperger’s and autism are often said to differ.
Often cited as a difference between Asperger’s and autism is the age of diagnosis. Asperger’s syndrome is often diagnosed at a later age than autism, with most diagnoses of Asperger’s being made in children ages 5 to 9. Children with autism may be diagnosed as early as age 2, but are most often diagnosed at 3 to 4 years of age.
Those with high-functioning autism have an IQ of 70 or higher, which is considered to be in the normal range. In these cases, Asperger’s and autism may be difficult to differentiate. The one difference is that those with high-functioning autism had cognitive delays as young children but were within normal IQ ranges by adolescence. Those with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s are often prescribed the same treatment programs. Symptoms shared may include difficulty with hygiene, knowing how to dress themselves appropriately, and problems with anger management and anxiety.
How those with the two conditions interact may also be a difference between Asperger’s and autism. Those with Asperger’s often exhibit signs that they want to be socially involved. They tend, however, to be eccentric and insensitive to social norms in their interactions with others. Those with autism tend to be withdrawn, self-isolating, and to not seek social inclusion.