Ever since we have been introduced to the “autism umbrella” or the “autism spectrum”, there has been some confusion about where Asperger’s syndrome comes into play. Does my child have autism or Asperger’s? Is there a difference? This is especially prevalent when an autistic child is particularly high-functioning.
Although Asperger’s is included in the spectrum of autism, there is a difference between it and high-functioning autism.
So, what’s the difference?
During child development is where we see the main difference between high-functioning autism and Asperger’s:
When a child with autism is in his early years he may seem particularly aloof or disinterested in his peers. This may also be accompanied by a difficulty in language learning. It’s also expected that his cognitive abilities wouldn’t develop the same as his peers. This is actually where the word autism was founded. At its root, autism means “self-ism”. This is because of an autistic individual’s tendency to draw away from their peers in seclusion.
However, this is not the case with someone with Asperger’s syndrome. A child with Asperger’s will develop his speech and cognitive abilities equally to his peers and should not show any problems in this area. They will also generally desire to fit in with their peers as children and they wouldn’t want to seclude themselves from the friends they have made, the difference, though, between a person with Asperger’s syndrome and his peers is that someone with Asperger’s may seem socially awkward and not know exactly how to fit in, despite their desire to do so.
Children with Asperger’s syndrome often times may even seem more intelligent than average because of their vast accumulated knowledge in some areas and their tendencies to be slightly obsessive with topics of interest. They may likely have excellent memory, yet struggle with abstract concepts.
Social situations are where Asperger’s will become apparent if it isn’t immediately recognizable. Children and adults may be able to communicate perfectly, yet, their speech may sound strange in some cases because they cannot grasp the subtleties of speech. They may lack normal inflections of the voice or they may speak too loudly, too softly, particularly formal, or may lack normal rhythm. Sarcasm and humor may also not be readily understood.
Ultimately, it can be expected that someone with Asperger’s will be able to live a normal life, to be able to hold down a job, get married, raise children, and function normally in society.
Individuals with high-functioning autism will start off their development with speech and cognitive struggles, where a person with Asperger’s syndrome will not have the same struggle.
Also, autistic individuals will usually be perfectly alright not fitting in with their peers, and may prefer to not be around them, whereas a person with Asperger’s generally wishes to interact normally with their peers.
Although there are differences between high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome, it is important to note that it is still considered within the autism spectrum. This may be because it makes it easier to classify individuals with these disorders and may also simplify the process of government funding to institutions that assist these individuals.