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Diagnosing Autism and Asperger's

Please give an explanation of the difference between the criteria for diagnosis of Autism and the criteria for the diagnosis of Asperger's. Then, explain how the symptoms of other childhood disorders might complicate a diagnosis of Autism or Asperger's. Provide an example.

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Autism vs Asperger's

These two disorders fall under the umbrella of what we call Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) and, more specifically, under Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). PDD is not a "real" or specific diagnosis but rather a group under which many types of diagnoses fall if they interfere with normal childhood development. Pervasive is a fancy word that means "throughout" or "spreading widely" and that is what we see with the symptoms of ASD, problems in many areas of development. Because autism and Asperger's Syndrome are both on the spectrum of ASD, they share many symptoms and this is one reason it can be difficult to get a differential diagnosis.

With an ASD diagnosis, we are looking for the "autistic triad", or three symptoms that are characteristic of this spectrum: (1) profound social impairment, (2) the preservation of sameness, and (3) impaired social communication. In addition, we often see (4) symptoms appear from the age of 2-5 years, (5) exceptional memory ability, and/or (6) obsession with inanimate objects, although these may or may not be present. Generally, with autism you will see the autistic triad and all or some of the other three symptoms and with Asperger's you will see more mild forms of these characteristics and they may not all be present. The presence or absence of these behaviors is how we diagnose these disorders because there is no medical or biological test that can identify autism or Asperger's.

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Solution Summary

The differences between the criteria from diagnosis of Autism and the criteria for the diagnosis of Asperger's are determined. An explanation of how the symptoms of other childhood disorders might complicate a diagnosis of Autism or Asperger's is determined.

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