November 1, 2017

Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, ASD: Are They the Same?

We've recently had the privilege of hosting a research study regarding neurofeedback therapy for children diagnosed with autism and have received a lot of questions about what is considered to be a part of the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Some people have mentioned that their children do not have ASD and have received a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome.

Before 2014, Asperger's syndrome and autism were separate diagnoses in the same category of pervasive developmental disorders. With the release of the most recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), autism and Asperger's syndrome both were included under one diagnosis, autism spectrum disorder. See, within the autism spectrum, there is a wide range of functionality between cases. While one person with ASD may be high-functioning and appear to not be on the spectrum by the casual observer, others can be completely nonverbal and require regular assistance.  

ASD is diagnosed by looking at a child’s behavior and development. There are two main types of behaviors characteristic of people with ASD: “restricted/repetitive behaviors” and “social communication/interaction behaviors.” Young children with ASD can usually be reliably diagnosed by age two, but recent studies have shown that ASD can be recognized in infancy in certain cases.  

Older children and adolescents should be evaluated for ASD when a parent or teacher raises concerns based on the child’s observed behavior when socializing, communicating, and playing.

Diagnosing ASD in adults comes with its own difficulties. In adults, some ASD symptoms can mirror symptoms of other mental health disorders. However, being properly diagnosed with ASD as an adult can help a person understand past difficulties and obtain the help they need. Since the spectrum of ASD has broadened over the past several decades, many adults who would now be recognized as being on the spectrum were never diagnosed as children because they didn’t meet the criteria of diagnosis at the time.

At Plasticity Brain Centers, we work with patients that have been diagnosed with medium- to high-functioning ASD, in an attempt to mitigate their symptoms and overcome the difficulties that ASD imposes on them. We also work with recently diagnosed adults to help them understand how ASD has affected their life so far and how they can overcome future difficulties through a better understanding of their diagnosis. For more information on ASD and what Plasticity Brain Centers does, see how we can help.

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