The differences between Asperger’s syndrome and autism

Autism is a well-known disorder today, with most of the population knowing some of its main characteristics. The same goes for Asperger’s syndrome. Both disorders are now part of the so-called Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD, having been incorporated into a single disorder in DSM 5 due to the presence of very similar symptoms.

However, if this had not happened until now it is because they are still similar and intimately related, there are elements that distinguish them. It is these characteristics that we are going to talk about in this article: the main ones differences between Asperger’s syndrome and autism.

    conceptualize autism

    Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by the presence of social, language and behavioral disorders. It is a problem that is usually detected in the very early stages of development, being able to see some of the main symptoms usually before the age of three.

    In this sense, the presence of communicative deficits stands out, such as the absence or difficulty in using or understanding non-verbal language, difficulties in establishing relationships or even in some cases an apparent lack of interest in the one. -this. They find it difficult to understand that others have a mind independent of their own and can sometimes have instrumental attitudes. They generally reject physical contact (although in some cases they will accept or seek contact from important people). They often give the impression of being locked inside, With little exploratory behavior with the environment.

    It is common to be sidelined with some degree of intellectual disability, as well as a delay in language acquisition and development (in some cases not being able to acquire it completely). They have great difficulty with the social and pragmatic use of language, and in some cases may even reach total silence, or the making of a few sounds.

    At the behavioral level, the presence of interests and repetitive and routine activities stands out, with which they usually have a great fixation. They tend to be rigid, have trouble adjusting to news, and need routines to make them feel safe. To finish, they may have hiccups or hypersensitivity to stimulation (Frequently in the face of noise and lights) and it is common for them to exhibit stereotypical movements that serve as self-stimulation.

      Asperger’s syndrome

      As for Asperger’s syndrome, it is also a neurodevelopmental disorderBut it usually takes a lot longer to observe, usually when the level of social demand begins to rise and to establish closer ties. It shares with autism the existence of interpersonal and communicative difficulties, as well as the existence of restricted interests and repetitive behaviors (also requiring routines and presenting difficulties in getting used to changes).

      They also have language difficulties, although there is no delay and the problem is limited to her pragmatic use and understanding of figurative language. They are usually very literal. It is difficult for them to grasp information about the emotions of others, and it is often difficult for them to express theirs, both verbally and non-verbally. Most have normative cognitive ability and generally do not suffer from intellectual disability.

      Despite this, there is usually some engine lag. Typical behavior is generally adaptive and they generally have curiosity and interest in the outside environment.

        main differences

        Considering the generic descriptions of the two disorders, we can see that although they share a large number of characteristics, they have characteristics which made them until a few years ago considered to be different disorders. The main differences are as follows.

        1. Intellectual capacity

        One of the perhaps most remarkable differences between Asperger’s and autism is found in the tendency to have certain levels of intellectual ability. While asparagus generally has an intellectual capacity in the average population, autism generally has some degree of intellectual disability (although in some cases they have a cognitive capacity located in the average population).

          2. Adaptive behavior and autonomy

          While there are elements that pose difficulties for both, as a general rule, the Asperger is generally able to act autonomously without major issues (beyond possible social issues). In the case of typical autism, these difficulties are much greater and those who suffer from them may need continued support.

          3. Language differences

          Although in both cases there is some sort of language difficulty, there are big differences in this ability.

          In the case of Asperger’s syndrome, who suffers from it tends to present problems with figurative language, its pragmatic use or understand aspects related to emotions (both orally and gesture). However, they generally have a rich vocabulary and speech appropriate to their level of maturity, even at times over cultured, and are generally able to express themselves correctly.

          The autistic person, however, it generally presents a language delayed compared to its level of maturation, Having severe difficulty expressing thoughts.

          4. Contact with others

          Autistic subjects and Asperger’s subjects are characterized by social difficulties. However, in Asperger’s case, these are generally interested in making social connections, while autistic subjects tend to seek more isolation and avoid more contact.

          5. Movements

          Another aspect that generally differentiates the two disorders is the presence of movement alterations. In autism, for example, it is common for stereotypical movements to occur, Which is not the case with Asperger’s. However, in the latter case there is usually some delay in motor development, which is not usually described in typical autism.

          6. Interest

          If in both cases there are restricted and repetitive, even obsessive, interests, in autism, they are usually based on a specific stimulus while in Asperger’s, these are generally broader or more elaborate themes.

          7. Age of detection and diagnosis

          While this does not appear to be typical of the disorder, it does give an idea that the symptoms are more or less marked and evident in one case or another.

          Typical autism or Kanner-type autism is usually diagnosed before the third year life while Asperger’s syndrome is usually diagnosed much later, usually around the age of seven or even in adolescence.

          Bibliographical references:

          • American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth edition. DSM-V. Masson, Barcelona.
          • American Psychiatric Association (2002). DSM-IV-TR. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Spanish edition. Barcelona: Masson. (Original in English from 2000).
          • Thief, A. (2012). Clinical child psychology. CEDE PIR preparation manual, 03. CEDE: Madrid.

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