High Functioning Autism & Asperger's Syndrome 

Asperger's disorder or "syndrome" is not a new diagnosis, in fact it was described in the 1940's.  "Asperger's Syndrome was first identified in 1944, but was only officially recognized as a diagnostic category in the DSM-IV in 1994. As a result, many children were misdiagnosed over the years as ADD/ADHD, Autistic, OCD, or even schizophrenic."  While Hans Asperger was describing this disorder in Austria, Leo Kanner was describing something else a half a world away.  Kanner described Autism at almost the same time.  The two disorders share some symptoms, but the degree of disability can vary widely.

What is Asperger's Syndrome?

Asperger's Syndrome is a neurobiological disorder that is classified as one of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD). It is characterized by significant impairment in social interaction, as well as the development of repetitive and restricted fields of interest and activities.

While there are some similarities with Autism, people with Asperger's usually have average to above average IQ, and do not demonstrate clinically significant delays in language or self help skills.

While they may have an extremely good command of language and have a very rich vocabulary, they are unable to use language appropriately in a social context and often speak in a monotone with little nuance and inflection in their voice.

Children with Asperger's may or may not seek out social interaction, but always have difficulty in interpreting and learning the skills of social and emotional interaction with others, leading to significant impairment in relationships and peer interaction.

Although parents often notice problems at an early age, diagnosis is usually made during preschool age or later. While both boys and girls can have Asperger's, the syndrome is more common in boys.

What is High functioning Autism?

High Functioning Autism (HFA) is the traditional diagnosis for individuals with severe social interaction and communication deficits. Although the distinction with Asperger's is blurred and indeed, Asperger's is often considered a subset of HFA, people diagnosed with HFA tend to have a much higher Performance IQ (P-IQ) than Verbal IQ (V-IQ). HFA-ers tend to avoid social contact more, but are less likely to feel embarrassed in social situations, being relatively unconcerned by other people's opinions.  They also tend to have had a slower language acquisition during childhood.  They frequently were late in their developmental milestones.  Parent's of these children frequently find this true when reviewing their baby books for information on when their child said their first word, put several words together, and so forth.


 If you suspect that you or a loved one is affected by a behavioral disorder, contact a qualified behavioral healthcare professional