Differences between High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

Differences between High Functioning Autism and Asperger's SyndromeFor decades professionals have been debating how Asperger’s Syndrome fits into the autism spectrum and whether High Functioning Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are one in the same.  While some have been adamant that Asperger’s Syndrome is merely a lesser form of autism at the higher functioning end of the spectrum, there are some differences that show High Functioning Autism (HFA) to be a distinct condition of its own.

Although individuals with Asperger’s tend to perform better cognitively than those with autism, the extent of the overlap between Asperger’s and high-functioning autism is unclear. Overall, relatively few differences are reported between the causes of Asperger’s and autism. One assumption is that Asperger’s and autism have a common cause, and are variable expressions of the same underlying disorder.

Asperger’s syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, and people with it show significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical use of language are often reported.

High functioning autism is not an official diagnostic term, though it may be used as such. A neuropsychological profile has been proposed for Asperger’s Syndrome; if verified, it could differentiate between AS and HFA and aid in differential diagnosis.

Relative to HFA, people with AS have deficits in nonverbal skills such as visual-spatial problem solving and visual-motor coordination.  People with HFA have language delays in childhood while people with AS have stronger verbal abilities, but both groups are likely to be of average or above average intelligence.

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