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Definition of Mild Asperger’s Syndrome and Its Difference from Classic AS

written by: KLeeBanks • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 11/28/2010

As one of the pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) within the autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Asperger’s syndrome is a high-functioning form of autism. However, mild Asperger’s syndrome differs subtly from classic AS. This article defines mild AS and the differences between it and classic AS.

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    Introduction

    Unlike numerous autistic individuals who exhibit various communication disorders, or who are unable to speak at all (i.e., non-verbal), individuals with Asperger's syndrome typically have an advanced vocabulary. Children with mild AS frequently appear just as "normal" as their typically developing peers, yet suffer from social anxiety and lack of social skills.

    They tend to cling to familiar routines and schedules, and take no notice of the current "fads" or interests of their peers. Children with mild AS also seem to form relationships with adult mentors more easily than with their same-age peers.[1][2] Just as differences exist between various forms of autism, likewise mild Asperger’s syndrome and classic AS differ from one another.

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    Differences Between Mild AS and Classic AS

    Often considered as merely “odd” and socially inept, a child with mild Asperger's syndrome may escape diagnosis until the teen years, after being the target of criticism and bullying, resulting in increased risk of depression.[3] Individuals with mild AS primarily suffer from social anxiety and may exhibit these symptoms [4]:

    • Cling to familiar routines and places, such as wearing the same old, comfortable clothes, and eating lunch at the same table every day.
    • Remain unaware of so-called “normal” teen topics of interest and clothing styles, meaning they often suffer exclusion from peer groups.
    • Find it difficult to make friends their age, yet relate well to adults.
    • May excel at certain challenging subjects like mathematics and programming, but fail at those that require emotional aptitude, such as literature and political science.

    Someone with classic AS, on the other hand, may exhibit a combination of these more obvious symptoms, as defined by Pediatric Neurology [5]:

    • Impaired ability to recognize non-verbal cues such as facial gestures, body language, emotions, or tone of voice.
    • Aversion to eye contact and limited attempts to form friendships.
    • Socially inappropriate behavior.
    • Odd behaviors, including fixation on certain topics or stimuli; perseveration (i.e., repetitive speech, gestures, or actions); monopolizing conversation with focus on one concrete topic of interest.
    • Peculiar speech habits, such as monotone, unusual inflections, or a “formal” moralizing tone.
    • Hypersensitivity to certain stimuli.
    • Awkward or unusual physical movements.

    Children with AS often become fixated on specific objects.

    Child with AS fixated on a molecular structure. 

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    References, Resources, and Image Permission

    Please check out the relevant references for this article, as well as helpful resources to expand your knowledge on this topic.

    References

    [1]Saint Louis Asperger. Asperger’s Syndrome. Retrieved from https://stlaspergers.org/Asperger_s_Syndrome.html

    [2][4]By Parents for Parents. Could It Be Asperger’s Syndrome? Teens with Mild Asperger’s Syndrome. Retrieved from http://www.byparents-forparents.com/asperger-syndrome.html

    [3]Health Communities.com. Signs and Symptoms of Asperger’s Syndrome. Retrieved from http://www.neurologychannel.com/aspergers-syndrome/symptoms-diagnosis.shtml

    [5]Pediatric Neurology. Autism Spectrum Disorders: Asperger’s Syndrome. Retrieved from http://www.pediatricneurology.com/autism.htm#Asperger%E2%80%99s%20Syndrome

    Resources

    Asperger Syndrome.org. OASIS – Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support. Retrieved from http://www.aspergersyndrome.org

    Autism Digest.com. Autism Asperger’s Digest Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.autismdigest.com

    North County Psychiatric Associates. Asperger’s Disorder. Retrieved from http://www.ncpamd.com/aspergers.htm

    Image Permission

    "Child with AS fixated on molecular structure" - wikimedia commons license.