Asperger syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder that is characterized by: 1
limited interests or an unusual preoccupation with a particular subject to the exclusion of other activities
repetitive routines or rituals
peculiarities in speech and language, such as speaking in an overly formal manner or in a monotone, or taking figures of speech literally
socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and the inability to interact successfully with peers
problems with non-verbal communication, including the restricted use of gestures, limited or inappropriate facial expressions, or a peculiar, stiff gaze
clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements
AS is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), one of a distinct group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior. Other ASDs include: classic autism, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (usually referred to as PDD-NOS).
Parents usually sense there is something unusual about a child with AS by the time of his or her third birthday, and some children may exhibit symptoms as early as infancy. Unlike children with autism, children with AS retain their early language skills. Motor development delays – crawling or walking late, clumsiness – are sometimes the first indicator of the disorder.
The incidence of AS is not well established, but experts in population studies conservatively estimate that two out of every 10,000 children have the disorder. Boys are three to four times more likely than girls to have AS.
Studies of children with AS suggest that their problems with socialization and communication continue into adulthood. Some of these children develop additional psychiatric symptoms and disorders in adolescence and adulthood.
Although diagnosed mainly in children, AS is being increasingly diagnosed in adults who seek medical help for mental health conditions such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). No studies have yet been conducted to determine the incidence of AS in adult populations.