Background of Asperger Syndrome/Autism Spectrum Disorder Diagnoses


Asperger Syndrome (AS) is a diagnostic term that officially came onto the professional scene in 1994 within the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) IV [and subsequently subsumed under the category Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in the DSM 5]. AS is defined as a neurological condition, meaning that people who have AS are born with it, and have it for life, although as they mature they may gain new skills, outgrow some of their AS traits, or use their strengths to compensate for their areas of disability.

AS is considered a form of autism, an autism spectrum disorder (at AANE, we use autism spectrum difference). Other closely related autism spectrum disorders include HFA (High-Functioning Autism), PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) and NLD or NVLD (Nonverbal Learning Disorder). Additionally, the diagnosis of Social Communication Disorder (SCD) was incorporated in the DSM 5. The boundaries among these diagnoses remain blurry, and whether they are all on the same spectrum with each other and with “profound,” “classical,” or “Kanner’s” (more narrowly defined) autism remains open to discussion. This information can be confusing to anyone, as the designations can change from year to year, and there is on-going debate among professionals and non-professionals regarding the parameters of diagnosis in adults and diagnosis in children and teens.