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What is Asperger's syndrome?

What is Asperger’s syndrome?

Asperger's has been in the news recently, since the latest revision of the Diagnostic and Statistic Manual (DSM-5) merged the condition with autism - meaning "Asperger's disorder" will no longer be a diagnosis in the future.  The decision to eliminate the term has been very controversial.

Before the recent revisions to the DSM-5, Asperger's syndrome was considered to be a mild form of autism, often referred to as high-functioning autism (HFA).  According to the Mayo Clinic, the core issues for children with autism include problems with social interaction, language and behavior.  

However, one of the main differences between Asperger's and autism is there is no speech delay in Asperger's, and the autistic symptoms are much less severe.  Often times, individuals with Apserger's have good language skills, but their speech patterns may be unusual, and they may not pick up subtleties such as humor or sarcasm.

The Autism Society states that while children with autism may seem uninterested in social interaction, those with Asperger's typically want to fit in and interact with others - but are incapable of knowing how to do so.

Another distinction between autism and Asperger's lies in cognitive ability.  Autistic children may often possess intellectual disabilities, but individuals with Asperger's by definition cannot have an intellectual delay and often have above average intelligence.

I'm concerned about the recent drop of Asperger's disorder from the DSM-5.   I think  no longer having Asperger's as a diagnosis may diminish the amount of proper early intervention - which is key to mainstream treatment.

Click to learn more about autism spectrum disorder and Asperger's from the Autism Society and AspergerSyndrome.org.

Dr. Manny Alvarez serves as Fox News Channel's Senior Managing Editor for Health News. Prior to this position, Alvarez was a FNC medical contributor.
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