Asperger Syndrome (AS)

What is Asperger syndrome (AS)?

Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger's, is a subtype of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Autism spectrum disorder encompasses multiple different developmental disorders that can range in symptoms and severity. 
Asperger syndrome is considered to be on the “high-functioning” end of the autism spectrum. People with this disorder tend to have problems with communication and social interactions. They have a desire to interact with others and fit in, but have trouble figuring out how. These problems with socializing can make it difficult for them to make friends and could potentially isolate them from their peers. Severity of symptoms can vary from person to person. People with this disorder also tend to have repetitive behaviors and a limited variety of interests. They may even have a certain interest that they are very intelligent in. They tend to have normal to superior IQ’s and can attend classes in school with everyone else, but may require additional special education services. They usually do not have any severe developmental delays or problems with language. 
Asperger syndrome and other pervasive developmental disorders were only recently put under the classification of autism spectrum disorder in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in the year 2013. 
Risk factors
  • Gender: autism spectrum disorder is more common in males than females
  • Family history of autism spectrum disorder (especially having a sibling with Asperger's)
  • Being born to older parents
  • Being born extremely preterm
  • Certain other medical conditions: People with fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, epilepsy, Tourette syndrome, and Rett syndrome may be at increased risk for also having Asperger syndrome. 
The number of people being diagnosed with Asperger syndrome has been rising. It is unknown whether this is because it is just being detected more or if the disorder is becoming more prevalent. To diagnose this disorder, doctors will complete a medical history and assessment. Prompt diagnosis is important with this disorder so that people affected can be treated and be able to succeed in school and in life. Doctors will often assess one’s development at regular check-ups and look at the person’s developmental history. If developmental delays are noticed, a specialist may be recommended for further evaluation. 
Criteria listed in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is often used to diagnose Asperger syndrome, although symptom severity can range. For someone to be diagnosed with Asperger syndrome they need to show normal language development and normal intelligence. In addition, the DSM-5 states that they must have “severe and sustained impairment in social interaction, and the development of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests and activities that must cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning.” Further diagnostic criteria can be found in the DSM-5.  
For some people, this disorder may be undiagnosed until problems at school or work arise. Some people may be diagnosed while seeking treatment for other disorders such as depression or anxiety. Adults who have problems with social interaction and think they may have Asperger syndrome should ask to be referred to a specialist. 
There is no cure for Asperger syndrome and treatment tends to be individualized. Intervention while a person is in preschool is ideal in order to maximize the child’s social and communication skills. Often people with Asperger syndrome can be educated with the rest of their peers, but may need special education services/classes as well. 
Potential treatments for Asperger syndrome include:
  • Behavioral and communication therapies
  • Medication
  • Educational therapies
  • Family therapies
  • Boys are approximately 4x more likely to have autism spectrum disorder.
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that about 1 in every 68 children has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
  • Autism spectrum disorder can be diagnosed as early as age 2 but most people aren’t diagnosed until after age 4.
  • Parents who have one child with an autism spectrum disorder have a 2-18% chance of having another child with one. 
about Asperger syndrome (AS)

  • "Autism spectrum disorder." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 15 Jul. 2017. Web. 16 Aug. 2017.
  • “Asperger Syndrome.” Autism Speaks Inc. Autism Speaks, n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2017.
  • “Asperger’s Syndrome.” Autism Society, n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2017.
  • “DSM-IV Diagnostic Classifications.” Autism Society, n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2017.
  • “What Is Asperger Syndrome?” ASPEN (Autism Spectrum Education Network), n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2017.
  • “Asperger Syndrome.” The Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Cleveland Clinic, 01 Feb. 2011. Web. 16 Aug. 2017.
  • “Autism Spectrum Disorder.” National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Mental Health, Oct. 2016. Web. 16 Aug. 2017.
  • “Signs & Causes of Asperger Syndrome.” Millcreek Behavioral Health, n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2017.
  • “Statistics.” Answer-Asperger’s Network Support, n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2017.
  • “Autism Spectrum Disorder: Data & Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 Mar. 2017. Web. 16 Aug. 2017. 


Autism is often referred to as a “hidden disability” because the condition often does not “look” visible. Parents may come to believe a child with the condition is acting out, and adults with autism can feel misunderstood and isolated. Although autism can severely impact daily living, support for those affected is improving as our understanding of the condition evolves. Check out this infographic for important facts and stats about autism spectrum disorder:
autism spectrum disorder (ASD) raising awareness


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