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Aspergers and Autism: What's the difference?

Over the last decade, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and Aspergers have steadily gained more mainstream attention. In fact, about one percent of the world population has ASD, with a prevalence of one in every 59 births in the United States making it the largest-growing developmental disorder.  There is often confusion between Autism and Aspergers and below we break down the difference and symptoms of both.

Asperger's syndrome is technically no longer a diagnosis on its own — it’s actually part of the broader Autism Spectrum Disorder category.  Asperger’s is considered a high-functioning type of ASD.  There are three main differences between the two conditions:

  1. IQs.  People with Asperger’s have normal or even superior IQs, while those diagnosed with autism typically have lower measured intelligence.
  2. Speech.  Those with Autism typically have varying degrees of speech delays and issues, whereas someone with Asperger’s has the ability to speak (though may not understand social interaction and cues).
  3. Age of detection. Autism begins presenting itself around two years of age; Asperger’s is typically noticed around school age children, when difficulties with socialization are apparent.

Autism is a neurological developmental disability that typically appears before the age of three.  It is a very complex disability that can affect an individual’s ability to communicate and interact with others.

Early Detection is Key

Autism is treatable but not curable.  One of the most important things you can do as a caregiver is to recognize the red flags or signs, as early diagnosis leads to significantly better results.  Studies have shown that an early, intensive treatment plan improves communication, learning and social skills.

Signs to look for in children:

  1. Lack or delay of speech
  2. Lack of eye contact
  3. Fixation on particular objects
  4. No smiling by six months of age
  5. Seem to be in his or her own world
  6. Have difficultly with simple commands

What to do if you think your child is on the Autism spectrum

Every person with autism is unique.  Because the effects of autism vary immensely, individuals with ASD are often considered to be “on the spectrum”.  If you believe your child is exhibiting signs of autism, the most important step is to make an appointment to get a diagnosis.  If your child is indeed diagnosed with ASD, educate yourself about the disorder and what services are available in your area.  Children with autism can be eligible for early intervention and special education services starting at three years of age.  Surround yourself and your family with the support of doctors, therapists, and educators that understand ASD and its unique challenges.

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