Difference Between Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

Main Difference – Autism vs Asperger’s Syndrome

Autism and Asperger’s syndrome are two psychiatric conditions that share several common features. Although it is quite challenging to differentiate one from the other, it is important to know the borderline of demarcation of Autism and Asperger’s syndrome, mainly for the purpose of treatment. The main difference between Autism and Asperger’s syndrome has been identified to be the severity of signs and symptoms and delay in language. Children with Asperger’s syndrome have very mild symptoms and signs compared to Autistic children with a comparatively normal language, intelligence and cognitive skills.Difference Between Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome - infographic

What is Autism

Autism is a lifelong, neurodevelopmental disorder which affects an individual’s perception of the things happening around them along with poor social interaction with others. It also refers to a set of complex conditions in the brain development characterized by difficulties and abnormalities in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and repetitive behavioral patterns, which may vary in the severity.

Even though the fundamental pathological process of Autism initiates during the first stages of brain development, the most significant signs and symptoms of Autism will appear around the age of 2-3 years. These symptoms may get worse gradually over time, and some children may even reach developmental milestones at a normal speed before the regression begins.

The exact etiology for Autism has not been identified yet, but there is a clear genetic predisposition associated with environmental factors.

As far as the main symptoms and signs of an autistic child are concerned, there is a triad of features which include impaired social interactions, impaired verbal and non-verbal communication and restricted and repetitive behavior. These children will show unusual ways of responding to others or external stimuli (will not make eye contact), late onset of babbling and abnormal gestures. Other features may include stereotype (repetitive movements of various actions like body rocking, flapping), compulsive behavior, sameness (resistance to change), ritualistic behavior (repetitive patterns of daily activities, not wanting to get deviated from the rituals), restricted behavior (less focus or attention on something), self-injury (finger biting, head banging) and unusual motor signs such as toe walking and poor muscle tone.

Difference Between Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

What is Asperger’s Syndrome

It is a developmental disorder and a form of mild autism spectrum disorder which is characterized by unusual social interactions, poor non-verbal communication, restricted or repetitive behavioral patterns, physical clumsiness and abnormal usage of language. In contrast to other autism spectral disorders, children with Asperger’s syndrome are comparatively normal in the aspects of language and intelligence. These children will have a large vocabulary and will engage in a lot of conversations by handling words in different ways. However, some styles of speech may involve unusual high pitch, low pitch, or lack of inflection. They will also show an inability to express themselves properly, in situations involving stress or panic. They may not understand various forms of language such as humor, irony or sarcasm even though their cognitive ability is untouched.

Although the exact etiology for Asperger’s has not been identified yet, genetics and environmental factors are known to be playing an important role in the pathogenesis of this condition.

Moreover, the main modalities of intervention for Asperger’s include social skill training, cognitive behavioral therapy, physical and speech therapy, parental training programs, mood stabilizers, and anxiolytics.

Main Difference - Autism vs Asperger’s Syndrome

Difference Between Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome


Autism: Autism is a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.

Asperger’s Syndrome: Asperger’s Syndrome is a developmental disorder related to autism and characterized by awkwardness in social interaction, pedantry in speech, and preoccupation with very narrow interests.

Severity of Signs and Symptoms 

Autism: Autistic children have severe symptoms and signs compared to children with Asperger’s syndrome.

Asperger’s Syndrome: Children with Asperger’s syndrome have very mild symptoms and signs compared to Autistic children. In fact, an Asperger’s child will often look just like a normal child with a quite different behavior.

 Social Interactions

Autism: Children with Autism usually prefer to stay isolated from the society since they are aloof and uninterested in things happening around

Asperger’s Syndrome: Children with Asperger’s highly prefer to move along with the society and interact although they don’t really know how to. Therefore they would tend to face awkward situations usually as a result of lack of knowledge in social norms and may show a lack of empathy towards others.

Language Skills

Autism: Children with autism tend to have a language delay or start talking later in life.

Asperger’s Syndrome: Children with Asperger’s Syndrome display good language skills although they might use the language in different ways.

 Image Courtesy:

“Autism” by hepingting (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr

“Riboflavin penicillinamide” By Poindexter Propellerhead at the English language Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia 

About the Author: Embogama

Embogama is a passionate freelance writer for several years. Her areas of interest include general medicine, clinical medicine, health and fitness, Ayurveda medicine, psychology, counseling and piano music