Autism and Asperger Syndrome
What is the difference between Autism and Asperger Syndrome? This is a common question since both disorders can appear to be similar. In reality, these are two distinct disorders on the Autism Spectrum. Individuals with the mildest symptoms that are the highest functioning are diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome while those with a more severe form of the disorder are diagnosed with Autism. Autism and Asperger Syndrome are both neurologically-based disorders and have been found to be caused by an inherited genetic component, although the specific gene has yet to be identified.
Early diagnoses can bring life changing affects to those who live with Autism and Asperger Syndrome. Finding the correct resources to provide training and support can significantly increase quality of life for those who live with either disorder.
Children who live with Autism most commonly experience language delays or even a lack of language itself. They make minimal eye contact with others, show obsessive fixations on specific parts of an object, and lack spontaneity. The difference between Autistic children and those diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (AS) is that individuals with AS tend to have normal language development, but suffer with social interactions. For example, people with AS may be clumsy, speak in a monotone, or have a stiff gaze. These individuals exhibit restricted and repetitive interests, and behavior. Those living with AS area also at a higher risk for anxiety and depression, making psychotherapy a critical tool in their growth to becoming well-adjusted adults.
If you believe someone you know is showing early signs of these disorders, here are some tips on what you can do to help:
- Get an accurate diagnosis.
- Get your support team in order.
- Join a support group.
- Take care of yourself.
- Find the right therapist.
For those diagnosed with Autism or Asperger Syndrome, therapy is especially important for personal development. Families and loved ones can also benefit from therapy because they, too, may experience challenges along the way. Marriage and Family Therapists can offer extra support. MFTs are relationship experts and work with individuals, couples, families, children, adolescents, and the elderly to provide support and perspective as patients struggle through the challenges of these disorders.
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