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Asperger Syndrome: Condition Information

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What is Asperger syndrome?

Asperger syndrome is a developmental disorder in which children have delays in social and motor skills, problems with communication, and intense interest in one object or topic.

Asperger syndrome is currently considered an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This group of neurological conditions is marked by a greater or lesser amount of difficulty in language and communication skills and unusual patterns of thought and behavior. ASD includes:

  • Autistic disorder ("classic" autism). Autistic disorder is often what people think of when they think of autism.
  • Rett syndrome. This ASD is a neurological and developmental disorder that occurs mostly in females. Symptoms begin showing between 3 months and 3 years of age. Infants with Rett syndrome seem to grow and develop normally at first, but then they stop developing and even lose skills and abilities. For instance, they stop talking even though they used to say certain words. They also lose their ability to walk properly. They stop using their hands to do things and often start wringing, clapping, or patting them.
  • Childhood disintegrative (pronounced dis-IN-tuh-grey-tiv) disorder (CDD). CDD is similar to Rett syndrome, except that children lose their skills later, usually around 3 or 4 years old. It is more common in boys.
  • Pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS). This disorder includes some, but not all, of the features of classic autism and/or Asperger syndrome.

Asperger syndrome is sometimes said to be a milder version of classic autism. However, unlike people with autism, many people with Asperger syndrome have normal or above-average intelligence and language skills.1,2,3,4,5,6

See more information on ASD on the NICHD website.


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders - 4th ed. Washington, DC: Author. [top]
  2. National Library of Medicine, Medline Plus. (2010). Asperger syndrome. Retrieved May 30, 2012, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001549.htm [top]
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Asperger syndrome fact sheet. Retrieved May 30, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/actearly/pdf/parents_pdfs/Asperger_Syndrome.pdf (PDF - 134 KB) [top]
  4. Filipek, P. A., Accardo, P. J., Ashwal, S., Baranek, G. T., Cook, E. H. Jr., Dawson, G., et al. (2000). Practice parameter: Screening and diagnosis of autism: Report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the Child Neurology Society. Neurology, 55, 468-479. [top]
  5. Johnson, C. P., & Myers, S. M.; American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Children with Disabilities. (2007). Identification and evaluation of children with autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics, 120, 1183-1215. [top]
  6. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders - 5th ed. Washington, DC: Author. [top]

Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 11/30/2012
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