Autism and Asperger's are both conditions that are considered autism spectrum disorders. It can be difficult to distinguish differences between the disorders and requires a trained clinician to make an official diagnosis. Typically, the diagnosis is not made until after the age two because the development of verbal language and social skills is significant in determining the type of disorder.
Lack of skills in social interaction is characteristic of both Asperger's disorder and autistic disorder. This may manifest as impairment in recognizing and reciprocating nonverbal social cues (such as eye contact or gestures), emotional responses and interests.
Lack of Flexibility
Lack of flexibility is characteristic of both Asperger's disorder and autistic disorder. This may manifest as difficulties in change of routine or schedule, preoccupation with limited areas of interest or concrete and literal ways of thinking and communicating.
There are specific motor mannerisms that are characteristic of both Asperger's disorder and autistic disorder. This may manifest as arm flapping, finger twisting and/or persistent chewing on inappropriate objects.
Autistic disorder can be differentiated from Asperger's disorder in that there is a significant delay or complete lack of the development of verbal language present before the age of two. In autistic individuals, there are obvious impairments in the ability to understand verbal language, ability to engage in verbal conversation and/or problems with spontaneous imaginary play that is appropriate to developmental level. Individuals with Asperger's disorder do not have this impairment and develop language skills normally.
Autistic disorder and Asperger's disorder are similar in the diagnostic criteria as outlined above. The major difference between the two is the delay of language prevalent in Autistic disorder before the age of two. Symptoms must be significant enough to impair functioning in school, work or social settings.
Autistic disorder and Asperger's disorder are both considered autism spectrum disorders. Typically, individuals with classic autistic disorder are much more impaired than individuals with Asperger's disorder. Autistic people usually require special school or work settings due to the lack of verbal skills. Those with Asperger's disorder can usually function in a normal environment with special modifications. Additionally, those with Asperger's disorder have normal IQ, whereas autistic individuals' IQs can vary.