Asperger’s syndrome was first described in the 1940s by Viennese pediatrician Hans Asperger. He noted that some boys with otherwise normal intelligence and language skills displayed autism-like behaviors, such as difficulties with social interaction and communication skills. Asperger’s syndrome was thought to be a milder form of autism. The term “high-functioning autism” was used to describe these individuals.

Asperger’s Disorder was added to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) in 1994 as a distinct disorder. It is important to note that many professionals consider Asperger’s Disorder a less severe form of autism. The 2013 edition of the DSM-5 reclassified Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder and other pervasive developmental disorders with the umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.


Asperger’s Disorder differs from autism. The symptoms are less severe symptoms as well as the absence of language delays. Youth with Asperger’s Disorder present as mildly affected, and their language and cognitive skills are generally normal.

Youth with autism are can appear aloof and uninterested in others. These are not traits seen in youth with Asperger’s Disorder. Those youth with Asperger’s disorder try to fit in and interact with others, but they just don’t know how. These youth often present as socially awkward, miss social cues and can show a lack of empathy.

They can appear to be obsessive in their interests. Youth with Asperger’s Disorder often like to collect categories of things. They often possess a deep fund of knowledge in a specific category of information, such as baseball statistics. They can memorize information but struggle with abstract concepts.

One of the major differences between Asperger’s Disorder and autism is there is no speech delay in Asperger’s. Youth with Asperger’s Disorder often have good language skills. These youth use language in seemingly peculiar manners. Speech patterns may be odd – lack inflection, sound rhythmic or too loud or high-pitched. Youth with Asperger’s Disorder have difficulty understanding the subtleties of language. They do not pick up on irony and humor and do not understand the back forth nature of conversation.

Another difference between Asperger’s Disorder and autism is cognitive ability. It is true that some individuals with autism have intellectual disabilities; however a person with Asperger’s Disorder cannot have a “clinically significant” cognitive impairment.  Also youth with Asperger’s Disorder frequently have motor skill delays and may appear clumsy or awkward.


Diagnosis of Asperger’s Disorder has increased in recent years. This could be related to increased awareness of the disorder and not necessarily an increase in prevalence.

Diagnosing Asperger’s begins with an assessment. This includes a developmental history and observation. Ideally this is done by medical professional experienced with autism and other PDDs. Early diagnosis is important, youth with Asperger’s Disorder who are diagnosed and begin treatment early in life have are able minimize the developmental impacts of Asperger’s.

For a good overview on Treatment for Asperger’s Syndrome: https://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/mental-health-aspergers-syndrome#1

Here is a study using a modified DBT approach. Modified dialectical behavior therapy to improve emotion regulation in autism spectrum disorders:Kathrin Hartmann – Moddified dialectical behavior therapy to improve emotion regulation in autism spectrum disorders