I have read through the Wikipedia article on and looked at the diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome (AS) and am still not sure how it is connected with autism. It seems like compared with autism it is really hard to distinguish between an average person and someone with AS.

The only criteria seems to be that people with AS are anti-social and do not have some other more serious psychological disease. Is there some sort of way of using neuroimaging to show a significant difference in the brains of an average person and someone with AS?

  • $\begingroup$ The simple answer is, I believe, that the autistic spectrum is considered very wide these days, and Aspergers is at some point on it. That does not mean that it has much in common with other points on the spectrum. Autism is a broad terms to cover a range of cognitive disruptions. $\endgroup$ Feb 16 '12 at 13:57
  • $\begingroup$ It's been subsumed into Autism Spectrum disorder as of the current draft of the DSM V is the definition there not satisfactory? $\endgroup$
    – Ben Brocka
    Feb 16 '12 at 20:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site russjohnson09! Your question is attracting down and close votes, probably due to the fact that "What is Asperger Syndrome? is really broad, and your question is close to being General Reference. Are you really asking How/why is Asperger Syndrome related to Autism? $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Feb 16 '12 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ I decided to close this question because it was vague and overly broad. That does not mean the question cannot be reopened! Please edit and improve your question Russ! For help, please ask a question on Meta! $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Feb 16 '12 at 21:10
  • $\begingroup$ I believe this has been more than adequately answered anyway, unless there is a more specific question. $\endgroup$
    – Ben Brocka
    Feb 16 '12 at 21:56

From ICD-10 (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems), Asperger's syndrome (F8.45) is:

A disorder of uncertain nosological validity, characterized by the same type of qualitative abnormalities of reciprocal social interaction that typify autism, together with a restricted, stereotyped, repetitive repertoire of interests and activities. It differs from autism primarily in the fact that there is no general delay or retardation in language or in cognitive development. This disorder is often associated with marked clumsiness. There is a strong tendency for the abnormalities to persist into adolescence and adult life. Psychotic episodes occasionally occur in early adult life.

Actually, the Wikipedia article that you are pointing to also makes it clear:

It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development.

However, there is no consensus if there is difference between Asperger's Syndrome and High-Functioning Autism. Perhaps also there is no clear distinction between clinically-significant autistic traits and complete absence of them.

Currently autism and Asperger's Syndrom alike are not fully understood on neurobiological basis (there are ongoing research, for a review see e.g. E. Pisula, The autistic mind in the light of neuropsychological studies (2010) or a special issue of Nature on autism).

However, the premise

The only criteria seems to be that people with AS are anti-social and do not have some other more serious psychological disease.

is clearly false.


Asperger's syndrome is at the mild end of Autism Spectrum Disorders, meaning that it has similar characteristics, but in milder form. In that sense, it is between Autism and typical development. People with Asperger's are not just "anti-social", they have a clinically significant impairment of social interaction. They also exhibit repetitive behaviors and restricted interests (more than just "I like dinosaurs", this would be a fascination with dinosaurs to the exclusion of most other things). Importantly, like other ASD variants as well as other mental health disorders, Asperger's is defined behaviorally, not neurologically. That means the diagnosis can be made by a trained clinician on the basis of the individual's behavior, not a brain scan. Presumably, there are neural correlates, but even if we knew what they were, they would not be the diagnostic criteria.

  • $\begingroup$ I am confused with what is "clinically significant" and what is "clinically insignificant", for each set of behaviour. Say for sensory aversion/ hypersensitivity. How much will be called clinically significant and how much will be called clinically insignificant? Also how to reveal if actually a clinically significant amount of stress being "masked" (due to societal pressure or say for unresponsiveness etc)? $\endgroup$ Oct 29 '19 at 17:38

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.