Top 5 Differences Between Autism vs. Aspergers

Unlocking the spectrum of Autism vs. Asperger's: Discover the similarities, differences, and support available for neurodivergent individuals.

Understanding Autism and Asperger's

When exploring the topic of autism and Asperger's, it is important to have a clear understanding of what each condition entails. While they share similarities, they also have distinct characteristics that differentiate them from one another.

What is Autism?

Autism, also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a developmental disorder that affects social interaction, communication, and behavior. It is a lifelong condition that typically appears in early childhood and continues throughout adulthood.

Individuals with autism may have difficulties with social interactions, such as understanding social cues, maintaining eye contact, and developing friendships. They may also exhibit repetitive behaviors, restricted interests, and have challenges with verbal and non-verbal communication.

For a more comprehensive overview of the characteristics associated with autism, you can refer to their article on characteristics of autism and Asperger's.

What is Asperger's?

Asperger's Syndrome, previously classified as a separate condition from autism, is now considered to be part of the autism spectrum. However, it is important to understand the historical context and distinctions associated with Asperger's.

Individuals with Asperger's typically have average to above-average intelligence and do not experience significant delays in language development. They often exhibit intense interests in specific subjects and may have difficulties with social interactions, such as understanding social norms and non-verbal communication cues.

Differentiating Autism and Asperger's

While autism and Asperger's share similarities, the primary difference lies in the severity of symptoms and the presence of language delays. Individuals with autism may have more significant challenges in communication and social interaction, whereas those with Asperger's tend to have milder impairments in these areas.

To get a better understanding of the similarities and differences between autism and Asperger's, you can refer to their article on similarities and differences between autism and Asperger's.

By understanding the unique characteristics associated with autism and Asperger's, we can foster a greater appreciation for neurodiversity and create a more inclusive society. It is important to recognize that individuals with autism and Asperger's have their own strengths and challenges and should be supported in ways that empower them to reach their full potential.

Core Similarities

Autism and Asperger's share several core characteristics and have overlapping diagnostic criteria. Understanding these similarities can help shed light on the commonalities between the two conditions.

Shared Characteristics of Autism and Asperger's

Both autism and Asperger's are neurodevelopmental disorders that affect individuals' social interaction, communication, and behavior. Some shared characteristics include:

  1. Social Interaction Challenges: People with both autism and Asperger's often experience difficulties with social interactions. They may struggle with nonverbal communication cues, maintaining eye contact, and understanding social norms.
  2. Repetitive Behaviors and Interests: Individuals with autism and Asperger's often exhibit repetitive behaviors and a strong interest in specific topics. This can manifest as repetitive movements, adherence to routines, and intense focus on particular subjects.
  3. Sensory Sensitivities: Sensory sensitivities are prevalent in both autism and Asperger's. People with these conditions may have heightened or decreased sensitivity to sensory stimuli such as sounds, lights, textures, or smells.
  4. Executive Functioning Challenges: Difficulties with executive functioning, which includes skills such as planning, organization, and flexible thinking, are commonly observed in both autism and Asperger's.

Overlapping Diagnostic Criteria

The diagnostic criteria for autism and Asperger's have historically been distinct. However, in recent years, changes in diagnostic guidelines have resulted in the merging of the two conditions under the umbrella term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Despite this merger, there are still overlapping diagnostic criteria, including:

  1. Impairments in Social Communication: Both autism and Asperger's involve challenges with social communication. These challenges may manifest as difficulties initiating or sustaining conversations, understanding nonverbal cues, or engaging in reciprocal social interactions.
  2. Restricted and Repetitive Behaviors: Restricted and repetitive behaviors are a common feature of both autism and Asperger's. These behaviors can include repetitive movements, adherence to routines, intense focus on specific interests, or resistance to change.

By recognizing the shared characteristics and overlapping diagnostic criteria between autism and Asperger's, we can gain a deeper understanding of these conditions. It's important to note that every individual is unique, and the presentation of autism and Asperger's can vary widely.

Key Differences

While autism and Asperger's share similarities, they also have distinct differences in various areas. Understanding these differences can help provide a clearer picture of these neurodevelopmental conditions.

Social Interaction and Communication

One of the key differences between autism and Asperger's lies in the realm of social interaction and communication. Individuals with autism typically experience significant challenges in social interactions. They may struggle with understanding social cues, maintaining eye contact, and engaging in reciprocal conversations. Difficulty with nonverbal communication, such as body language and facial expressions, is also common.

In contrast, individuals with Asperger's often have a relatively better ability to engage in social interactions. They may exhibit a strong desire for social connection, but can struggle with understanding social norms and appropriately interpreting social cues. While they may have good verbal communication skills, they may still face challenges in understanding and responding to nonverbal cues.

Sensory Sensitivities

Sensory sensitivities are another area where autism and Asperger's differ. Individuals with autism often exhibit heightened sensitivities to sensory stimuli. They may experience sensory overload or be extremely sensitive to sounds, lights, textures, or smells. These sensitivities can lead to discomfort, anxiety, or meltdowns.

On the other hand, individuals with Asperger's may have sensory sensitivities as well, but they are typically less pronounced. Sensory challenges may focus more on specific areas of sensitivity, such as certain textures or sounds. While they may have preferences or discomfort with certain sensory inputs, they may be more manageable compared to those experienced by individuals with autism.

Special Interests and Routines

Individuals with autism and Asperger's often develop intense interests in specific topics or subjects. However, the nature of these interests can differ. Individuals with autism may tend to have more restricted and repetitive interests, often focusing on specific objects or patterns. These interests may be highly specialized and may dominate their thoughts and conversations.

In contrast, individuals with Asperger's may also exhibit intense interests, but these interests are often broader and may align with their areas of expertise or passion. They may display extensive knowledge about their interests and may engage in detailed discussions or research related to those topics. These interests can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment for individuals with Asperger's.

Understanding these key differences between autism and Asperger's can help individuals, caregivers, and professionals in better recognizing and addressing the specific needs and challenges associated with each condition. 

Diagnosis and Treatment

When it comes to autism and Asperger's, an accurate diagnosis is essential for understanding an individual's unique needs and providing appropriate support. In this section, we will explore the diagnostic process for autism and Asperger's, the therapeutic approaches used, and the support and resources available for individuals with these conditions.

Diagnostic Process for Autism and Asperger's

The diagnostic process for both autism and Asperger's involves a comprehensive assessment by qualified professionals. These assessments typically include a combination of interviews, observations, and standardized tests to evaluate an individual's behavior, communication skills, and social interactions.

To diagnose autism, clinicians refer to the criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The DSM-5 provides specific guidelines for identifying the presence and severity of autism symptoms based on social communication impairments, restricted and repetitive behaviors, and the impact these symptoms have on daily functioning.

Asperger's, on the other hand, was previously considered a separate diagnosis but is now classified under the broader umbrella of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The diagnostic criteria for Asperger's are similar to those for autism, with a primary focus on social communication difficulties, restricted interests, and repetitive behaviors.

It is worth noting that the diagnosis of autism and Asperger's is not always straightforward, and individuals may receive different diagnoses based on the clinician's interpretation and assessment process. 

Therapeutic Approaches for Autism and Asperger's

Therapeutic approaches for autism and Asperger's aim to enhance communication skills, social interactions, and overall quality of life. These approaches are tailored to the individual's specific needs and may include a combination of behavioral interventions, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and social skills training.

Behavioral interventions, such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), are commonly used to target specific behaviors and teach new skills. ABA focuses on reinforcing positive behaviors and reducing challenging behaviors through structured and systematic interventions.

Speech and language therapy helps individuals with autism and Asperger's develop effective communication skills. This therapy may include strategies to improve verbal language, nonverbal communication, and social pragmatics.

Occupational therapy addresses sensory sensitivities and helps individuals develop daily living skills, fine motor skills, and sensory integration. This therapy can be particularly beneficial for individuals with autism and Asperger's who may experience challenges with sensory processing. 

Support and Resources Available

A variety of support and resources are available for individuals with autism and Asperger's as well as their families. Support can come in the form of support groups, community organizations, and online forums where individuals can connect, share experiences, and seek advice.

Additionally, there are numerous resources available that provide information, strategies, and tips for navigating life with autism and Asperger's. These resources may include books, websites, and online courses that offer guidance on topics such as education, employment, relationships, and self-advocacy.

It is important to remember that the support and resources available may vary depending on location and accessibility. Seeking guidance from professionals, connecting with local autism organizations, and exploring online platforms can help individuals and families find the support they need.

By understanding the diagnostic process, exploring therapeutic approaches, and accessing available support and resources, individuals with autism and Asperger's can receive the necessary support to thrive and lead fulfilling lives. Embracing neurodiversity and promoting acceptance and inclusion are crucial steps in creating a society that values and supports individuals with autism and Asperger's.

Embracing Neurodiversity

Neurodiversity is a concept that recognizes and celebrates the diversity of neurological differences, including conditions such as autism and Asperger's. It promotes the idea that these differences should be respected and valued, leading to a more inclusive society. In this section, we will explore how embracing neurodiversity can help promote acceptance and inclusion for individuals with autism and Asperger's.

Celebrating Differences

Embracing neurodiversity means celebrating the unique strengths and abilities that individuals with autism and Asperger's bring to the table. Instead of focusing solely on the challenges they may face, it is essential to recognize their talents, perspectives, and contributions. By celebrating the differences, we create a society that values diversity and fosters an environment where everyone feels accepted and appreciated for who they are.

Promoting Acceptance and Inclusion

Promoting acceptance and inclusion is a crucial aspect of embracing neurodiversity. It involves creating a society that is understanding and supportive of individuals with autism and Asperger's. This can be achieved by raising awareness about these conditions, challenging stereotypes, and fostering empathy and understanding. By promoting acceptance and inclusion, we strive to create an environment where individuals with autism and Asperger's can fully participate and thrive in all aspects of life.

Advocating for Neurodivergent Individuals

Advocacy plays a significant role in embracing neurodiversity. It involves standing up for the rights and needs of neurodivergent individuals, including those with autism and Asperger's. Advocacy efforts can focus on areas such as education, employment, healthcare, and accessibility to ensure that individuals with autism and Asperger's have equal opportunities and access to necessary support and resources. By advocating for neurodivergent individuals, we work towards building a society that is fair, inclusive, and accommodating for all.

Embracing neurodiversity is not only about acceptance and inclusion but also about creating a society that values and appreciates the unique perspectives and strengths of individuals with autism and Asperger's. By celebrating differences, promoting acceptance and inclusion, and advocating for neurodivergent individuals, we can work towards a more inclusive and understanding world.


Can someone have both autism and Asperger's syndrome?

No, someone cannot have both autism and Asperger's syndrome. While they share some similarities, they are considered two separate conditions on the autism spectrum.

How are autism and Asperger's diagnosed?

Autism and Asperger's are typically diagnosed through a combination of developmental assessments, behavioral observations, and interviews with caregivers. A thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional is necessary to receive a diagnosis.

Are there effective treatments for autism and Asperger's?

While there is no cure for autism or Asperger's, early intervention and therapy can help individuals with these conditions improve their communication, social interaction skills, and quality of life. Treatment options may include behavioral therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, medication management, and more.

Is it possible for someone to outgrow or recover from autism or Asperger's?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that someone can outgrow or recover from autism or Asperger's. However, with appropriate support and intervention, individuals with these conditions can learn coping strategies and develop skills to improve their daily functioning.


In conclusion, autism and Asperger's are two separate conditions that share some similarities but have distinct differences. Autism is typically associated with more severe symptoms and intellectual disabilities, while Asperger's is often associated with milder symptoms and high intelligence. It's important to understand the differences between these two conditions in order to provide appropriate support and resources to those affected by them.


More Resources

Expert Clinicians

Our team at Adina ABA consists of highly trained, licensed, and insured professionals who are not only knowledgeable in autism care but also compassionate, culturally sensitive, and reliably dependable.
Get started today ->