There is often debate around Asperger’s and Autism, where Asperger’s is confused to be just another form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Officially, Asperger’s has been classified under ASD since 2013. Many doctors and patients, however, prefer to abide by a separate Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis. In this article, we offer a brief guide on the difference between Asperger’s and Autism, as well as ways to treat these conditions.

Understanding ASD vs Asperger’s

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders that affect social, behavioral, and communicative abilities. Children with Autism often have difficulty with processing sensory inputs, verbal and non-verbal communication, repetitive behaviors or movements, as well as difficulties with learning and problem-solving. As a result, their ability to interact socially and maintain relationships is impaired.

Asperger’s Syndrome was described in the 1940’s by the Austrian physician Hans Asperger while studying social and communication limitations, amongst boys with normal language abilities and intelligence. Previously considered just a ‘mild’ or ‘high-functioning’ form of Autism, it is now recognized as having its own unique symptoms. Children with Asperger’s Syndrome often prefer strict routines and to be left on their own. This may lead them to also have difficulty responding appropriately in social or emotional situations. As a result, they often have trouble maintaining friendships and relationships.

Difference between Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism

Asperger’s Syndrome is currently regarded as part of the Autism spectrum, with the main distinction being the presence of normal intelligence and language skills. However, many clinical professionals still give a separate Asperger’s diagnosis, and many people with the condition identify with Asperger’s rather than Autism. The main points of distinction when it comes to Autism Spectrum Disorder VS Asperger’s are as follows:

  • Autism tends to be diagnosed a lot earlier than Asperger’s, as the symptoms of Autism are much more severe and evident to other people. In many cases, children with Asperger’s may not be diagnosed until their teenage years or even adulthood, as they do not have obvious developmental delays.
  • While children with Autism often appear aloof and uninterested in interacting with others, children with Asperger’s often want to interact but lack the social skills to do so properly.
  • Children with Autism tend to exhibit speech and language delays. In contrast, children with Asperger’s have no such delays and, in fact, often have good language skills. However, they lack the ability to understand nuances such as non-verbal gestures, irony, sarcasm, or the give-and-take nature of most conversations. 
  • While children with Autism often display intellectual delays or disabilities, children with Asperger’s do not have such cognitive delays. Many children with Asperger’s, may be intellectually gifted.
  • The biggest point of difference between Asperger’s and Autism is that the symptoms of Asperger’s are much milder, to the point of not being noticeable. The average person may even assume that someone with Asperger’s is just a neurotypical person behaving somewhat differently. The symptoms of Autism are more visibly evident to the layperson.

Treatment for Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism

Neither of the two conditions can be cured completely. The treatment for Asperger’s VS Autism is quite similar, with a focus on teaching children social, behavioral, and emotional skills necessary for normal functioning. If your child has been displaying signs of developmental delay, the first step is to get the correct diagnosis. Once you understand the difference between Asperger’s and Autism, you can consult with the therapist to outline a treatment plan. Therapies common to both conditions include:

  • Relationship Development Intervention: This is a relatively new form of treatment that involves encouraging positive social behaviors in the child through active participation from parents. RDI focuses on building dynamic intelligence, which helps the child understand multiple perspectives and process change better. Ultimately, this enables children to form stronger personal and emotional connections.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This type of therapy defines triggers for various types of behavior. Children with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome can learn to recognize those triggers and modify their actions accordingly. This is especially effective in children with Asperger’s Syndrome, as they are able to articulate things better than children with more severe forms of Autism.
  • Developmental and Individual Differences Relationship (DIR) Therapy: Also known as floortime, this involves the therapist or caregiver literally getting down on the floor to play games that the child wishes to play.
  • Social Skills Training: This involves a variety of exercises, both one-on-one and in group settings, to enable the child to interact better with peers and teachers. It includes lessons on things like understanding non-verbal cues, taking turns in conversations, and exercising imagination in games and projects.
  • Stem Cell Therapy: This is an up-and-coming way to treat ASD, by enabling the body to heal itself and stave off symptoms for longer. It is a safe and speedy form of treatment that uses the patient’s own cells (Autologous Treatment), so that there is no risk of infection or cell rejection.

In addition, certain treatments targeted towards children with Autism include:

  • Communication Intervention: This is especially useful for children who are non-verbal or have difficulty talking clearly. Therapists help them interact better with other people by teaching them through the use of cue cards, tablets, or other assistive methods.
  • Occupational Therapy: This focuses on helping children with ASD complete daily tasks, such as getting dressed or feeding themselves. The therapist will use a variety of games and fun exercises to make it easier for the child. This prepares them for a time where they may be living by themselves.

Children with either condition, moreover, should be given a healthy diet and taken for regular medical check-ups to guard against other illnesses. In addition, while some parents like to treat ASD with alternative therapies like herbal medicine, they should consult the doctor in advance.

FAQs

  • Which is worse, Asperger’s or Autism?
    When it comes to Asperger’s versus Autism, children with Asperger’s tend to have milder symptoms and display fewer developmental delays.
  • What are the five different types of Autism?
    The five main types of Autism Spectrum Disorder are Asperger’s Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Kanner’s Syndrome, Rett’s Syndrome, and Pervasive Development Disorder. 
  • What are the characteristics of a person with Asperger’s?
    People with Asperger’s may display symptoms such as talking endlessly about the same topic, standing too close to people or not making eye contact during conversation, or not noticing when someone else is speaking.
  • What are people with Asperger’s good at?
    People with Asperger’s often have average to high levels of intelligence. They have strong verbal skills, an extensive vocabulary, and the ability to retain large amounts of information on topics they are interested in.
  • What are the disadvantages of Asperger’s?
    When undetected or improperly treated, people with Asperger’s may suffer from isolation, difficulty forming connections or making friends, low self-confidence, social anxiety, and depression.
  • How does an Asperger’s mind work?
    A person with Asperger’s tends to focus more on details than on the big picture. Many of them think in terms of numbers, while others are more visual thinkers.
  • Can Asperger’s have empathy?
    It is a common misconception that people with Asperger’s do not have empathy. They care about the thoughts and feelings of other people, but they struggle to put themselves in other people’s shoes or to verbally offer empathy.
  • Can you develop Asperger’s or are you born with it?
    People who have Asperger’s are born with it, although the age of symptom detection and diagnosis may vary. Generally, there is no one cause behind someone developing Asperger’s, although genetic factors may play a role.
  • How do you know if an adult has Asperger’s syndrome?
    Adults who have Asperger’s may demonstrate social awkwardness such as difficulty maintaining eye contact, struggling to interpret gestures or non-verbal behaviors, and trouble keeping up a conversation.
  • Do patients with Asperger’s have good memory?
    Generally, people with Asperger’s display normal or above-normal levels of intelligence. This includes having strong recognition memory and verbal working memory, as well as the ability to learn by association.
  • Does Asperger’s get worse with stress?For someone with Asperger’s, the stress of having to meet people they do not know or participate in an environment they are not used to, can be taxing. This could lead to anxiety attacks or meltdowns.
  • What level of Autism is Asperger’s?
    Asperger’s Syndrome is generally classified as Level 1 or high-functioning Autism, where there is little need for support.
  • Can you have Autism and Asperger’s at the same time?
    Asperger’s is part of the Autism Spectrum, and as such is not a separate condition.
  • Is Asperger’s worse than ADHD?
    While both Asperger’s and ADHD are neurodevelopmental disorders, children with Asperger’s tend to have more trouble learning social skills and integrating into neurotypical society than those
  • Can Asperger’s also have Narcissism?
    Narcissism is a personality disorder that involves a spectrum, just like Autism. However, people with Narcissism are highly connected to their own feelings and are able to manipulate others to get what they want. People with Asperger’s cannot do this as they are less aware of feelings and what others are thinking.
  • Can Asperger’s go away?
    Asperger’s, and any form of Autism, has no cure. However, the correct treatment can help improve symptom management and enable patients to participate better in social situations and relationships.

Dr Na'eem Sadiq is a respected stem cell specialist at Plexus, and a prominent neurologist in Bangalore. He studied neurology and clinical neurophysiology in London, and worked with some of the most prestigious medical institutions in England, and the Middle East. He completed his MBBS at Bellary Government Medical College, and a postgraduate degree in psychiatry from NIMHANS in Bangalore.

Dr Na'eem has perfected his knowledge and expertise in Continuing medical education (CME), and training in tissue culture, Stem Cell Therapy, and neurology. Dr Na'eem Sadiq possesses an undying passion to improve people’s lives. This led to the creation of Plexus, a neuro and Stem Cell Research centre in Bangalore in neurosurgery, and neurorehabilitation.