Asperger syndrome

Alternative Names

Pervasive developmental disorder – Asperger syndrome; Autistic spectrum disorder – Asperger

Definition of Asperger syndrome

Asperger syndrome is often considered a high functioning form of autism. People with this syndrome have difficulty interacting socially, repeat behaviors, and often are clumsy. Motor milestones may be delayed.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Hans Asperger labeled this disorder “autistic psychopathy” in 1944. The exact cause is unknown. More than likely, an abnormality in the brain is the cause of Asperger syndrome.


People with Asperger syndrome become over-focused or obsessed on a single object or topic, ignoring all others. They want to know everything about this topic, and often talk about little else.

Signs and tests

There is not a standardized (used and accepted by almost everyone) test used to diagnose Asperger syndrome.


There is no single best treatment for all children with Asperger syndrome. Most experts feel that the earlier treatment is started, the better.

Expectations (prognosis)

With treatment, many children and their families can learn to cope with the problems of Asperger syndrome. Social interaction and personal relationships may still be problems. However, many adults work successfully in mainstream jobs and are able to have an independent life, if they have the right kind of support available.


Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 4/26/2010

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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