There has been a lot of debate about the nature of Asperger’s syndrome and where it fits within the Autism spectrum. The one thing that is known for sure is that Asperger’s IS a type of autism, but without many of the debilitating symptoms. There are many differences between what most people think of when they imagine an autistic child and one that suffers from Asperger’s syndrome. Let’s take a look at some of the basic differences.
1. A child who is typically autistic will show severe lapses in the development of language. A high percentage of autistic children may never develop language skills at all. With a child or an adolescent who has Asperger’s syndrome, language skills are usually not affected at all and in fact can be above average. A child with Asperger’s syndrome can show impaired social development that may lead to a lack of language usage, but the actual development of the language itself is on par with other children of the same age.
2. A second way to differentiate Asperger’s disease from classic autism is the cognitive abilities of Asperger’s children. Most kids that have Asperger’s show normal or even above average cognitive ability in classroom settings and on I.Q. tests. This extends into the later years of development too. However, children with classic autism show cognitive impairments that usually do not improve with age.
3. A third and major difference between kids with autism and Asperger’s is the way the two interact socially. In most cases, although there are variances since each child with autism and each child with Asperger’s reacts differently, a child who is autistic can sometimes come across as being cocky or not really caring about children around them. However children with Asperger’s syndrome in most cases want to be social but are just very, very awkward. They tend to be too formal in social situations, and they are thought to not show empathy to other children. They may also appear to have no knowledge of social rules and proper mannerisms. They can also show almost complete lack of eye contact, which many regard as a lack of interest in being social, but it is more out of awkwardness than a lack of wanting to be social.
4. A final way that you can tell if a child has Asperger’s syndrome and not traditional autism is the way an Asperger’s syndrome child becomes obsessed with things. The subject of the obsession can range something like sports statistics to obscure things like names of Russian czars or any other bizarre thing you can think of. This obsessive behavior also has an impact on the child’s socialization. They tend to only want to talk about whatever their current obsession is with other people, including kids their own age. This can add to the awkward social interaction that is common for those with Asperger’s syndrome.
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When talking about Asperger’s vs Autism, children with Asperger’s are sometimes referred to as having ‘high functioning autism’. This is a subjective term and has no medical definition. However it is often used to refer to children with typical Asperger’s symptoms or mild autism symptoms.