Asperger syndrome (AS), also known as Asperger's, is a developmental disorder characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction and nonverbal communication, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests.
The condition is what doctors call a "high-functioning" type of ASD.
This means the symptoms are less severe than other kinds of Autism Spectrum Disorder. This group of related mental health issues shares some symptoms. Even so, lots of people still use the term Asperger's.
As a milder autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it differs from other ASDs by relatively normal language and intelligence.
Children with autism are frequently viewed as aloof and uninterested in others. This is not the case with Asperger’s Disorder.
Individuals with Asperger’s Disorder usually want to fit in and have interaction with others, but often they don’t know how to do it. They may be socially awkward, not understand conventional social rules or show a lack of empathy. They may have limited eye contact, seem unengaged in a conversation and not understand the use of gestures or sarcasm.
Their interests in a particular subject may border on the obsessive. Children with Asperger’s Disorder often like to collect categories of things, such as rocks or bottle caps. They may be proficient in knowledge categories of information, such as baseball statistics or Latin names of flowers. They may have good rote memory skills but struggle with abstract concepts.
Treatment is aimed at lowering obsessive or repetitive routines, and improving communication skills and physical clumsiness.
Interventions may include social skills training, cognitive behavioral therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, parent training, and medications for associated problems, such as mood or anxiety.
Most children improve as they grow up, but social and communication difficulties usually persist. Some researchers and people on the autism spectrum have advocated a shift in attitudes toward the view that autism spectrum disorder is a difference rather than a disease that must be treated or cured.
The DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition) also includes a new diagnosis, called social pragmatic communication disorder, which has some symptoms that overlap with Asperger's. Doctors use it to describe people who have trouble talking and writing, but have normal intelligence.