There is a lot of relationships that autism spectrum disorder and Asperger's syndrome
shares and are often assumed to mean the same thing, the complexity, and sensitivity of the topic
necessitate the need to have a clear distinction on the relationship between the two disorders.
These essays exploit the relationship between autism and Asperger's syndrome using theories
The autism spectrum disorder
To explore the relationship between Autism and Asperger's syndrome, it's important to
understand what each of the terms means. Autism belongs to a group of neurodevelopmental
related disorders (Heasman, 2018). The disorder relates to a process where the brain abnormally
develops from childhood. Cases of autism in the pasts were very rare and estimated a prevalence
of 0.04% but the recent prevalence's, as given by the 2011 U.K census estimates the prevalence
at 1.1%. The increase in prevalence is attributed to the recognition of the disease as a condition
Autism disorder has two criteria of diagnosis, either through the world health
organization's international classification of diseases (ICD-10) and the other alternative is the
diagnostics and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-V) by the American Psychiatric
Associations (Doernberg, 2016). Both of these approaches use the same criterion triad of
impairments, which utilizes, impairments in social communication, social imagination, and
social interaction that was first described in 1981 by Lorna Wing (Masi, 2017).
The impairment in social communication can be observed in cases where the victim
experiences difficulties inability to converse in reciprocal conversations, spoken language is
delayed in young kids, abnormalities in speech intonations, and unusual repetitive use of
language (Doernberg, 2016). The impairment in social interactions can be observed in situations
as having difficulty in making eye contact, difficulty in relating with colleagues or making
friends, and disinterest in seeking or giving comfort. In terms of social imaginations, the victims
show stereotyped patterns of behavior, restricted interests, and activities.
Under ICD-10 guidelines for one to be admitted under Autism spectrum disorder, one
should be able to manifest at least two areas in each of the three criteria. These symptoms should
begin manifesting before the victim reaches 3 years of age. In adults, an autism diagnosis is a bit
difficult because it becomes difficult to single out ASD symptoms from other disorder symptoms
The first case of Asperger Syndrome was published in 1944 by Hans Asperger but
referred to then as Autistic psychopathy. Hans's work was ignored for a long time because his
subjects had symptoms that were the same as those of the ASD, except that they had language
and cognitive skills. Wing published his work in 1981, and later Asperger syndrome made to
ICD-10 classification in the early 1990s (Klauber, 2018).
Diagnosis of Asperger syndrome is the same as the diagnosis of autistic spectrum
disorder because they have similar symptoms only that AS is diagnosed in persons who are
average or above average in intelligence (Robison, 2017). Diagnosis thus involves consideration
of time it took in developing cognitive skills or language, otherwise, the syndrome has the same
characterization as the ASD based on the same triads of deficits. Another similarity is that, AS
and ASD share is that both share the same features only that in some cases the Asperger
Syndrome reveals more prominently. The theory of mind as described by Woodruff and Premack
describes the ability of some people to put themselves in the position of another person and be
able to appreciate what they are thinking, what they wish, and what they feel (Conway, 2019). A
character trait that people with Asperger syndrome don't have often described as a lack of
The two basic diagnostic criteria, ICD-10 and SSM-V are used to test psychiatric
disorders, but DSM –V employs a more strict approach, and that is why in some scenarios where
a person diagnosed as autistic by the ICD-10 criteria, is excluded by DSN-V criteria. DSM-V
does not diagnose subtypes of autism including Asperger syndrome (Kulage, 2020). This
exclusion has drawn a lot of debates on the place of Asperger syndrome is and the difference it
has with autism. It is argued that, if the differences exist at all the Asperger's syndrome cannot be
separated from high functioning autism. Asperger syndrome is considered a continuum of
pervasive developmental disorders and not as a qualitative separate entity going by the exclusion
The relationship between autism and Asperger syndrome.
For many years, there has been a lot of debate on the categorization of Asperger
syndrome and autism as two distinct diagnoses. Clinicians and researchers majority of them
believe that Asperger syndrome is a mild form of Autism and therefore should be classified as
high-functioning autism. The two diagnostic groups share diverse similarities.
In terms of communication, Asperger syndrome and Autism have similar symptoms,
diagnosis shows that victims of both disorders suffer communication impairment, such as
difficulty in the use of nonverbal communication, repetitive questioning, and the use of
idiosyncratic phrases. Both groups show a consistent response in terms of social isolation, for
instance, they both have difficulty in relating to their peers, they lack emotional reciprocity, and
cannot play imaginatively (Dell’Osso, 2019). Both of these groups as well are engaged in
stereotypic behaviors such as growing narrow interest or desires for sameness something
common in children their age.
Despite a lot of efforts from researchers and clinicians, classifying Asperger syndrome
and autism is the same disorder. Some research claim that differences do exists in areas such as;
Poor motor skills is a symptom common with Asperger syndrome people. And it is a
major symptom consideration showing Asperger syndrome possibility, Asperger (1944) through
his work elucidates difficulty in motor skills. Children diagnosed with Asperger disorder are
clumsy and exhibit a lack of gross motor coordination (Ribeiro, 2020). Some researchers argue
that children with autism disorder have strong motor functioning while the Asperger disorder
children are clumsy. This difference is not included as a measure for diagnosis in both the ICD-
10 and DSM-V diagnostic criterion because, there are conflicting arguments by researchers that,
the differences are generated by the objective opinions from the clinicians instead of conducting
standardized tests on motor functioning (Heasman, 2018). The inconsistent results obtained in
research basing on motor skills are the reason for the exclusion of these differences in diagnostic
The classification by Asperger on his patients as having high intelligence or being
average is consistent with the ICD-10 and DSM-IV criteria (Sharma, 2018). The later research
shows that the majority of the patients suffering from autism disorder when subjected to a range
of intelligence tests fall in the category of retarded mentality (Mottron, 2020). Therefore, a
person's cognitive ability forms a strong basis for classifying diagnosis as either Autism or
Asperger disorder. Although cognitive ability is not used as a measure for diagnosis of autism,
past research shows that a child with autism disorder when engaged with certain interventions
like for instance applied behavioral analysis, the child IQ increases, and a child's performances
start to improve (Kulage, 2020). In the case of such a scenario, the diagnosis does not change
from autism to Asperger disorder, because IQ is not among the diagnostic criteria.
This is another contentious area used by researchers in trying to differentiate autism and
Asperger syndrome disorder. As part of the diagnosis, Asperger disorder patients should have
normal speech development in their early years (Volkmar, 2020). Autism on the other hand has
no records of age of speech development as a requirement of diagnosis. This creates an
overlapping position between autism and Asperger syndrome diagnosis. Research shows that in
terms of language and communication patients with autism exhibit more deviances than those
with Asperger disorder.
The patients with autism and Asperger syndrome can also be distinguished based on their
interest in social interactions. Autism diagnosed persons are aloof and often uninterested in
others while on the other hand, Asperger disorder children have the willingness to interact but
they lack the social interaction skills (Jaswal, 2019). Researchers have simply put it that autism
children "live in their world" while Asperger disorder children "live in our world in their ways"
Researchers postulate that there is a pattern when it comes to differentiating autism
disorder from Asperger disorder diagnoses. Autistic children have left hemisphere dysfunction
characteristics, while Asperger disorder children experience right hemisphere dysfunctions
The comparison of grey matter volume examined from children with autism and
Asperger syndrome shows a matched controls. What was found to differ at the time of
examination between AS and Autism is the language delay. The intelligent quotient of both the
diagnosed groups had no differences (Kobayashi, 2020). The results of the grey matter volume
revealed that, patients with Autisms had a significant low volumes, implying a deficit of the
superior temporal sulcus a component responsible for changing sequences of visual and auditory
Many clinicians and researchers have in many constructs and features attempted to give
differences between Autism and Asperger disorder syndrome but so far there is no distinct or
definitive approach on this matter. The complications are further heightened by the
heterogeneous nature of the patients diagnosed with both the disorders syndromes. Despite the
limitation, the differential approach still plays a big role in creating understanding and diagnosis
of the disorder.
The research proposal on the relationship between autism and Asperger syndrome is
based on existing theories and research.
Under DSM-IV classification, the main difficulties common to Asperger syndrome and
autistic disorder is in language and communication, children suffering from the disorder
experiences challenges in communicating. Previous research on autism and Asperger syndrome
may help in devising clinical interventions to help improve their psychosocial abilities,
vocational, behavioral, and educational outcomes in children diagnosed with the disorder.
Various research is undergoing to establish relationships between autism and Asperger
syndrome. The research applies theoretical approaches, for instance, validation studies, which
seek to examine the relevance of developmental language on linguistic outcomes of Autism and
Asperger syndrome. The three methodological criteria limitations, however, do not allow the
clinical research and understanding of the Asperger and autism syndrome to be adopted as a
conclusive reflection on the difficulties experienced by those with the diagnosis.
The project aims to find the relationship between Autistic Disorder and Asperger
syndrome to aid in easily diagnosing the disorder and extend the understanding of the disorders
based on clinical findings and research. This will be done through a comprehensive analysis of
the features that share similarities between autism and Asperger syndrome.
The project will be based on a group study of 18 children, 4 females and 14 males, within
the age bracket of 9 months to 17 years. And the other group of 15 adults, 7 females and 8 males
aged between 18 to 70 years with a diagnosis of Autism and Asperger syndrome.
People are social beings and every action they undertake in everyday activities relates in
one way to another with shared relations among themselves. Persons with autism and Asperger's
syndrome have associated difficulties when relating to people (Conway, 2019). And in most
cases they found themselves sidelined, or shying away from colleagues. The reason being, most
of them fail to practice empathy that is common with normal people.
Both High functioning autism and Asperger's syndrome belong to a subtype of pervasive
developmental disorders. A long debate has been on whether the two disorders manifest their
symptoms differently on the same spectrum or manifests in two distinct disorders (Robison,
2017). The debate recently has started to decline since a lot of theories tend to agree that both
disorders share the same features. This conclusion theoretically is warranted, but the lack of
research evidence has delayed a decisive conclusion.
The failure to finding a conclusive decision is what it made DSM-IV classification
subsumed Autistic Syndrome under Asperger syndrome disorder, their classification is narrower
and thus does not consider finer differences in observations (Doernberg, 2016).
Reliable research findings are crucial in bringing the similarities between the two
disorders, because if going by the clinical opinions, the two have distinct disorders that exhibit
different symptoms and impairments, and thus the difference in requirements of treatments and
necessary interventions. Conversely, if the research should prove that Autism shares similar
symptoms with Asperger syndrome, then it would be a plus to the Asperger syndrome disorder
patients on the point that Autism already has a vast amount of knowledge. The proposal thus
seeks to find the relationship between Asperger syndrome and Autism.
To further the three theoretical approaches to the clinical understanding of the
relationship between Asperger syndrome and autism. The three approaches include studying
spectrum disorders, validation studies, and combined studies on Autism and Asperger syndrome
The conclusion part will summarize the findings of the report, basing on the research it
should be able to account if there is a relationship between the two disorders or not.
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