What is Asperger's Disorder?

Date Updated
6/30/17

​According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Asperger's Disorder, also referred to as Asperger Syndrome, was a term previously used to describe one of the pervasive developmental disorders. The diagnosis of Asperger’s Disorder was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) in 2013. Those previously diagnosed with Asperger’s Disorder are now included in the broader category of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, ASD “is the name for a group of developmental disorders. ASD includes a wide range, “a spectrum,” of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability.” They go on to report that

“People with ASD often have these characteristics:

  • Ongoing social problems that include difficulty communicating and interacting with others
  • Repetitive behaviors as well as limited interests or activities
  • Symptoms that typically are recognized in the first two years of life
  • Symptoms that hurt the individual’s ability to function socially, at school or work, or other areas of life

People with ASD may have other difficulties, such as being very sensitive to light, noise, clothing, or temperature. They may also experience sleep problems, digestion problems, and irritability.

ASD is unique in that it is common for people with ASD to have many strengths and abilities in addition to challenges.

Strengths and abilities may include:

  • Having above-average intelligence – the CDC reports  46% of ASD children have above average intelligence
  • Being able to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time
  • Being strong visual and auditory learners
  • Excelling in math, science, music, or art.”

For additional information and resources, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke's ASD Information Page or What is Autism? by the Autism Society of America.