NINDS Asperger Syndrome Information Page: NINDS


Article title: NINDS Asperger Syndrome Information Page: NINDS
Conditions: Asperger Syndrome
What is Asperger Syndrome?
Asperger syndrome (AS) is a pervasive developmental disorder characterized by an inability to understand how to interact socially. Other features include clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements, social impairment with extreme obtuseness, limited interests and/or unusual preoccupations, repetitive routines or rituals, speech and language peculiarities, and non-verbal communication problems. Generally, children with AS have few facial expressions apart from anger or misery. Most have excellent rote memory and musical ability, and become intensely interested in one or two subjects (sometimes to the exclusion of other topics). They may talk at length about a favorite subject or repeat a word or phrase many times. Children with AS tend to be "in their own world" and preoccupied with their own agenda. AS is commonly recognized after the age of 3. Some individuals who exhibit features of autism (a developmental brain disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication skills) but who have well-developed language skills may be diagnosed with AS, although high-functioning autism differs from AS in early language delay.

Is there any treatment?
There is no specific course of treatment or cure for AS. Treatment, which is symptomatic and rehabilitational, may include both psychosocial and psychopharmacological interventions such as psychotherapy, parent education and training, behavioral modification, social skills training, educational interventions, and/or medications including psychostimulants, mood stabilizers, beta blockers, neuroleptics, and tricyclic antidepressants.

What is the prognosis?
Children with AS have a better outlook than those with other forms of pervasive developmental disorders, and are much more likely to grow up to be independently functioning adults. Nonetheless, in most cases, these individuals will continue to demonstrate, to some extent, subtle disturbances in social interactions. There is also an increased risk for development of psychosis (a mental disorder) and/or mood problems such as depression and anxiety in the later years.

What research is being done?
The NINDS conducts and supports a broad range of research on developmental disorders including AS. The goals of these studies are to increase understanding of these disorders and to find ways to treat, prevent, and ultimately cure them.

Selected references

Bishop, D.
Autism, Asperger's Syndrome and Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder: Where Are the Boundaries? British Journal of Disorders of Communication, 24; 107-121 (1989)

Gillberg, C.
Asperger Syndrome in 23 Swedish Children Developmental Medicine and Child Neurology, 31; 520-531 (1989)

Gillberg, C.
Outcome in Autism and Autistic-like Conditions Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 30:3; 375-382 (May 1991)

Szatmari, P.
Asperger's Syndrome: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Outcome Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 14:1; 81-93 (1991)

Kerbeshian, J, et al.
Asperger's Syndrome: To Be or Not To Be? British Journal of Psychiatry, 156; 721-725 (1990)


Asperger Syndrome Coalition of the U.S. (ASC-US)
P.O. Box 49267
Jacksonville Beach, FL 32240-9267
Tel: 904-745-6741

MAAP Services [For Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, and PDD]
P.O. Box 524
Crown Point, IN 46308
Tel: 219-662-1311
Fax: 219-662-0638

Autism Network International (ANI)
P.O. Box 35448
Syracuse, NY 13235-5448

Center for Outreach and Services for the Autism Community (COSAC)
1450 Parkside Avenue
Suite 22
Ewing, NJ 08638
Tel: 609-883-8100 800-4-AUTISM (428-8476)
Fax: 609-883-5509

Autism Society of America
7910 Woodmont Ave.
Suite 300
Bethesda, MD 20814-3067
Tel: 301-657-0881 800-3AUTISM (328-8476)
Fax: 301-657-0869

National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD)
P.O. Box 8923
(100 Route 37)
New Fairfield, CT 06812-8923
Tel: 203-746-6518 800-999-NORD (6673)
Fax: 203-746-6481

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Information Clearinghouse
1 Communication Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20892-3456
Tel: 800-241-1044 TTD/TTY: 241-1055

National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institutes of Health
Bldg. 31, Rm. 2A32
Bethesda, MD 20892-2425
Tel: 301-496-5133 800-370-2943

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
6001 Executive Blvd.
Rm. 8184, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
Tel: 301-443-4513 TTY: 301-443-8431 Depression Info: 800-421-4211 Anxiety Info: 88-88-ANXIETY (269-4389) Panic Info: 888-64-PANIC (64-72642)
Fax: 301-443-4279

Related NINDS Publications and Information

  • Autism
    Autism information sheet compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).
  • Autism Fact Sheet
    Autism fact sheet developed by NINDS, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
  • Autismo
    Informacion en espanol del Autismo/Spanish-language fact sheet on autism compiled by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

    This fact sheet is in the public domain. You may copy it.

    Provided by:
    The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
    National Institutes of Health
    Bethesda, MD 20892

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