No. 69; January 2013
Click here to download and print a PDF version of this document.
Asperger’s Disorder was sometimes referred to “high functioning autism.” This is because many of the children diagnosed with the disorder had average or above average intelligence and near normal development of speech and language.
In 2013, the diagnosis of Asperger’s Disorder was removed from the newly revised Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). Children previously diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder were included in the broader category of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The new definition covers children who display problems with communication and social interactions. For example, they may respond inappropriately in conversations or misread non-verbal cues. They may also have difficulty building friendships appropriate to their age. In addition, children with Autism Spectrum Disorder may be overly dependent on routines, unusually sensitive to changes in their environment, or intensely focused on specific items.
The decision to combine the categories grew out of research demonstrating that Asperger’s was not actually a separate “disorder.” Instead, children previously diagnosed with Asperger’s were better and more accurately described as having a disorder “on the autism spectrum.” Researchers also hope that the improved accuracy and consistency of the diagnosis will lead to enhanced research on the cause, treatment and ultimately prevention of Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Child and adolescent psychiatrists have the training and expertise to evaluate Autism Spectrum Disorders. They can also work with families to design appropriate and effective treatment programs. Currently, the most effective treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorder involves a combination of psychotherapy, special education, behavior modification, and support for families. Some children will also benefit from treatment with medication.
The outcome for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders is related to intellectual functioning and communication skills. Children with normal or above normal intelligence and normal or near normal speech and language often finish high school and attend college. Although difficulties with social interaction and awareness may persist, they can often do well in specific work settings and develop lasting relationships with family and friends. Access to ongoing counseling, support and assistance increases the likelihood of a positive and successful outcome.
See additional Facts for Families:
#4 The Depressed Child
#6 Children Who Can't Pay Attention
#11 The Autistic Child
#23 Children with an Intellectual Disability
#16 Learning Disabilities
#49 Schizophrenia in Children
#60 Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in Children and Adolescents
#00 Definition of a Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Excerpts from Your Child on Asperger's Disorder
In the past, children with Asperger's Disorder were often diagnosed as having autism. While this disorder does share some characteristics with autism, there are some important distinctions.
The outcome for children with Asperger's disorder is generally more promising than for those with autism, probably because of their higher intellectual and communication abilities.
Excerpts from Your Adolescent on Asperger's Disorder
In the past, children with Asperger's disorder were often diagnosed as having autistic disorder. While this disorder does share some characteristics with autistic disorder, there are important distinctions.
The outcome of adolescents with Asperger's disorder is generally more promising than for those with autistic disorder, probably because of their higher intellectual and communication abilities.
The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) represents over 8,500 child and adolescent psychiatrists who are physicians with at least five years of additional training beyond medical school in general (adult) and child and adolescent psychiatry.
Facts for Families© information sheets are developed, owned and distributed by AACAP. Hard copies of Facts sheets may be reproduced for personal or educational use without written permission, but cannot be included in material presented for sale or profit. All Facts can be viewed and printed from the AACAP website (www.aacap.org). Facts sheets may not be reproduced, duplicated or posted on any other website without written consent from AACAP. Organizations are permitted to create links to AACAP's website and specific Facts sheets. For all questions please contact the AACAP Communications & Marketing Coordinator, ext. 154.
If you need immediate assistance, please dial 911.
Copyright © 2012 by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.