Aspergers syndrome and high functional autism are considered separate diagnoses along the spectrum of autistic disorders. Even so, there are many similarities between the disorders so that some consider them to be different labels for the same condition.
Both those with Aspergers syndrome and those with high functioning autism have difficulties with sensory functioning and cannot tolerate certain noises or certain kinds of tactile stimuli. By definition, those with either disorder have an IQ which is at, near or above the normal intelligence range. Both conditions involve a child or adult who has learned to function in society or in their surroundings by relying on the skills they happen to be good at.
Children with high functioning autism and those with Aspergers syndrome think better in visual terms. They see pictures in their heads when recalling something and don’t have a particularly good ability to think in words. Both diagnoses are associated with a relative inability to understand nonverbal cues and facial expressions.
The primary difference noted in the diagnostic criteria for each disorder is the finding of a greater speech delay in high functioning autistics when compared to those with Aspergers syndrome. Others feel this represents a continuum and that this shouldn’t be enough to establish one diagnosis over another. Albert Einstein, for example, was felt to have characteristics of Aspergers syndrome, yet he couldn’t speak until he was three years old.
Unfortunately, there are no specific blood tests or other diagnostic tests to differentiate between the two diagnoses. Instead the diagnosis is based on clinical judgment and observation. Some children with tentative high functioning autism will catch up on verbal skills and will carry the same diagnostic appearance that Aspergers syndrome patients do. Their IQ may be at least as high as other children labeled with Aspergers syndrome.
Children with Aspergers syndrome and high functioning autism are both high functioning and, in general, they can all read, write, speak and understand. In the end, the final subtleties between the two diagnoses may just be a matter of semantics and may not represent a true difference in diagnoses.
The Parenting Aspergers Resource Guide: A Complete Resource Guide For Parents Who Have Children Diagnosed With Aspergers Syndrome
• Anonymous said... With asperger's being no longer diagnosed in countries that follow the dsm 5 it really starts to no longer matter, does it? I mean I know many hold on to the diagnosis as they prefer it somehow and I have been told (here in Australia ) my son's diagnosis will stay the same too, but it's long considered as a form of autism. I do NOT see the difference to hi-fu autism. I know a couple of asperger kids, they are all quite different of each other in their development.
• Anonymous said... Great post! Thanks.
• Anonymous said... I have even heard that high functioning should be dropped since that is really subjective.
• Anonymous said... My son was diagnosed on Monday with Aspergers and the doc said in two months they are taking it out of the "autism" category.
• Anonymous said... Tony Attwood that one must be careful to distinguish dichotomous between HFA and AS. At page 45 of the Complete Guide to Asperger's Syndrome, he concludes that HFA and Asperger's have the same social behavior. He warns against academic dichotomy, which means to divide a whole into two non-overlapping parts. He then suggests that the whole is about a specter. Furthermore, he refers to different practice throughout the world, sometimes AS is used where HFA is used elsewhere, and vice versa. Moreover, he points to recent research indicating no difference in cognitive, social, motor, or neuropsychological tests. He concludes that both diagnoses may be used in the same cases. He also notes that HFA is used when symptoms are detected earlier than is common in AS. But it could also mean that parents and others have earlier discovered the autistic traits.
• Anonymous said...it no longer matters ...Aspergers is high-functioning autism now. Same disorder - different name.
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