The essential features of Asperger’s Disorder are severe and sustained impairment in social interactions with others, and the development of restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, and activities. A person with Asperger’s often appear to lack empathy toward others, have difficulty with nonverbal behavior (such as making eye contact or having facial expressions), and may show an intense obsession with very defined, narrow topics of interest.
Some people with Asperger’s may engage in long-winded, one-sided conversations with others, without regard to the other person’s interest in what they’re saying. Sometimes a person may speak in a monotone voice or unusually fast, and may have odd body postures or gestures. Click here for the specific symptoms used to diagnose Asperger’s Disorder.
In contrast to autism, there are no clinically significant delays in language (e.g., single words are used by age 2 and communicative phrases are used by age 3). In addition, there are no clinically significant delays in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood.
Information on the prevalence of Asperger’s Disorder is limited, but it appears to be more common in males.
Asperger’s Disorder appears to have a somewhat later onset than Autistic Disorder, or at least to be recognized somewhat later. Motor delays or motor clumsiness may be noted in the preschool period.
Difficulties in social interaction may become more apparent in the context of school. It is during this time that particular idiosyncratic or circumscribed interests (e.g., a fascination with train schedules) may appear or be recognized as such.
As adults, individuals with the condition may have problems with empathy and modulation of social interaction. This disorder apparently follows a continuous course and, in the vast majority of cases, the duration is lifelong.
Although the available data are limited, there appears to be an increased frequency of Asperger’s Disorder among family members of individuals who have the disorder.
Continue reading: In Depth: Asperger’s Disorder