Aspergers Vs Autism Whats The Difference: Understanding The Two Conditions

Autism and Aspergers are two neurodevelopmental disorders that present difficulties in social interaction, communication, and behavior patterns. However, there are a few differences between the two conditions.

Causes Of Autism And Aspergers

The cause of autism and Aspergers is still unclear, but some research suggests that both conditions may have similar genetic and environmental factors.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), autism is likely caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. This means that a child’s genes, combined with environmental factors such as exposure to toxins, may increase the risk of developing autism.

On the other hand, Aspergers may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, but the exact cause is still unclear.

Differences In Diagnosis

Autism and Aspergers were two separate diagnoses before the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was released. In the earlier DSM-IV, Aspergers was considered a separate disorder, while in the DSM-5, it was combined with autism under the diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Another difference in the diagnosis of the two conditions is the severity of the symptoms. Individuals with ASD are evaluated based on the severity of their symptoms using the DSM-5 criteria.

Symptoms of ASD are rated from level 1 to level 3:

  • Level 1 – Requiring support
  • Level 2 – Requiring substantial support
  • Level 3 – Requiring very substantial support

Aspergers, on the other hand, was not graded by severity under its former diagnosis in the DSM-IV.

Differences In Social Interaction And Communication

While both Aspergers and autism affect social interaction and communication, the symptoms may present differently between the two conditions.

Individuals with Aspergers may not understand social cues and may struggle to establish and maintain relationships. However, they frequently seek out social interaction and may struggle more with language and communication.

Individuals with autism, on the other hand, may also have difficulty with social interactions, but the symptoms tend to be more severe. Those with autism may struggle to establish any relationships and may have difficulty relating to others. They may also have difficulty with body language, understanding jokes, and nonverbal communication.

In terms of communication, individuals with Aspergers may develop a unique and more sophisticated language, while individuals with autism may struggle to communicate and may have trouble speaking entirely.

Differences In Behavior Patterns

Individuals with Aspergers and autism may have different behavior patterns. Typically, those with Aspergers may have fewer difficulties with sensory issues, such as sensitivity to noise or light. They may also have a higher degree of interest in specific topics, become very knowledgeable about those topics, and become fixated on them.

On the other hand, individuals with autism may have more severe sensory issues and may be hypersensitive to certain sounds, smells, or touch. They may also engage in repetitive behaviors, such as rocking or hand flapping.

Treatment Options

Although there is no cure for either Aspergers or autism spectrum disorder, there are treatment options to help manage symptoms and improve functionality.

Treatment for Aspergers may include behavioral therapy, social skills training, and medication to manage depression or anxiety.

For autism spectrum disorder, treatment options may include early intervention programs, speech and language therapy, behavioral therapy, and medication to manage symptoms of the condition, such as aggression or anxiety.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Aspergers and autism are two conditions that have similar characteristics but present differently. While both conditions affect social interaction, communication, and behavior patterns, there are differences that set the two conditions apart. Understanding these differences can help individuals with these conditions receive the necessary treatment and support to improve their quality of life.

FAQs

What is the difference between Aspergers and Autism?

Aspergers and Autism are both neurodevelopmental disorders and belong to the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). However, the main difference between them is that Aspergers is considered a milder form of Autism. Individuals with Aspergers have better language and communication skills, and they usually do not have delayed cognitive development as seen in Autism. People with Aspergers also tend to have a keen interest in particular subjects, while individuals with Autism may display repetitive behaviors or exhibit traits such as self-stimulatory movements.

What are the signs and symptoms of Aspergers and Autism?

The signs and symptoms of Aspergers and Autism can vary from one person to another. Generally, individuals with both conditions have difficulty with social interactions and communication abilities. They may also exhibit repetitive behaviors, obsessive interests, and have difficulty with change. Other common symptoms of Autism may include delayed language development, lack of eye contact, and difficulty with sensory input. On the other hand, signs of Aspergers may be subtler than Autism, with individuals showing strong intellectual capabilities and interests in specific topics.

How can Aspergers and Autism be diagnosed?

To diagnose Aspergers or Autism, trained health professionals use standardized criteria known as the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). The DSM-5 outlines specific symptoms and behavior patterns that can help differentiate Aspergers from Autism. The diagnosis process involves a series of behavioral and developmental assessments conducted by a qualified clinician, considering information provided by the person, their family, and medical history. It is essential to diagnose Aspergers or Autism early to ensure that individuals receive the proper support and resources to reach their full potential.


References

1. Baron-Cohen, S. (2009). Autism: the empathizing, systemizing (E-S) theory. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1156, 68-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04467.x

2. Wing, L. (1981). Asperger’s syndrome: a clinical account. Psychological Medicine, 11(1), 115-129. doi: 10.1017/S0033291700053332

3. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.books.9780890425596