Autism and Asperger’s Disorders are characterized by a similar set of characteristics, most notably deficits in social interaction skills, communication skills, and highly stereotyped behaviors (e.g., repetitive motor or vocal behaviors that don’t seem to serve any function) or interests (topics of conversation or activity are highly restricted or narrow). The major difference among the disorders is in language development: in Asperger’s Disorder, there is no delay in early language development. In Autism, there is some delay in language acquisition. Also, delays (in language or social development) must be noted to occur prior to age 3 for a diagnosis of Autism.
Other generalizations are often made about the different characteristics and interests of individuals diagnosed with these disorders, but those characteristics are not part of the diagnostic criteria for the disorders.
As always, a pediatrician or other health professional should see the individual in person to make an accurate diagnosis.
Google DSM IV and look at the diagnostic criteria for autism and aspergers. There isn't a huge amount of difference and it can be even harder to fit the diagnosis to a child/adult because there can be alot of borderline charteristics that fit both diagnosis. But generally those with Aspergers tend to develop language normally. However every parent I know with a child with a diagnosis of Aspergers says that they still have huge problems with language and social interaction. They tend to have language processing problems, Semantic Pragmatic Speech Disorder, Literal interpretation of language etc. Those with Aspergers tend (but not always), to do better ie average to above average academically. They also tend to have obsessions and interests.
Those with autism tend to have much greater difficulty with language and tend not to develop language at the usual age. They may not be verbal at all or may be delayed or have disordered speech. My son is HFA and is verbal, but is also echolalic (again both those with autism and aspergers can be echolalic, which is an indication of their language difficulties because this demonstrates they don't learn language in the same way that we do.) They also tend not to have obsessions in the same way or extent as those with aspergers.
Many would say that aspergers is on the autistic spectrum with severely autistic children being at one end and HFA and aspergers at the other.
Both groups have difficulties with change in general, changes in routine or expectations not being met. Both groups of sensory difficulties.
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