Asperger Syndrome is one of the autism spectrum disorders.
What are autism spectrum disorders? They are also called pervasive developmental disorders in the DSM-IV. These conditions are characterized by challenges/deficits of social interaction and communication.
Autism spectrum disorders begin in infancy or childhood. These conditions are not Ďcuredí, as some might think. They are really just a different way of thinking and viewing the world. However, the challenges that arise in communication and social interaction should not be minimized, either.
According to Wikipedia,
ASD, in turn, is a subset of the broader autism phenotype (BAP), which describes individuals who may not have ASD but do have autistic-like traits, such as social deficits. Of the other four ASD forms, autism is the most similar to AS in signs and likely causes but its diagnosis requires impaired communication and allows delay in cognitive development; Rett syndrome and childhood disintegrative disorder share several signs with autism but may have unrelated causes; and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) is diagnosed when the criteria for a more specific disorder are unmet.
The Aspergers Autism Debate
Here is where the debate over the exact classification for Aspergers (AS) begins. The current classification of autism spectrum disorder, according to the researchers who are updating the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (coming out in May 20130, does not entirely reflect the true nature of autism spectrum disorders.
The plan is to eliminate the name of Aspergers Disorder, and put it under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorders. There will be a focus on levels of severity, versus on the exact name of Aspergers.
This is a very controversial move, and researchers and doctors working on the manual still have not decided whether to call it a disorder or a syndrome.
(Personally, I like syndrome a whole lot better. While we donít want to minimize the challenges that come with the autism spectrum, itís too easy to miss all of the positive characteristics of the autism spectrum by calling it a disorder instead of a spectrum).
I hope this overview of the similarities and differences between Autism and Asperers was helpful.