Abnormal Psychology: Mental Health and Mental Illness

Major Mental Illnesses

How is Asperger’s syndrome different from autism?

In recent years there has been increasing interest in the diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome. It is not clear whether Asperger’s syndrome is simply a milder form of autism, or whether it is a truly separate syndrome. As with autism, Asperger’s syndrome is characterized by deficits in social interaction and a restricted range of interests evident from early childhood. However, there is no delay in language development and verbal skills are generally higher in Asperger’s than in autism. Additionally, there is usually no evidence of cognitive delay in Asperger’s, whereas mental retardation is fairly common in autism. People with relatively mild forms of Asperger’s can be very successful, generally in fields that focus on logical analysis, factual information, or manipulation of objects (for example, computer programming, engineering, or mathematics), but they may still have difficulty negotiating social situations.


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