High Functioning Autism (HFA) and Asperger Syndrome (AS) are more similar to each other than different. In fact, many doctors and researchers think that both diagnoses may merge into one category in the near future.
For now though, there are few differences that are debated by those who think that there still might be a varying diagnosis.
Age of onset
One the most widely accepted diagnoses is that signs of HFA can be identified at a very young age, sometimes as early as between the ages of 6 – 18 months. On the other hand, the onset of AS is seen at a much later age, mostly between the ages of 5 and 9.
HFA kids seem to have a problem learning language and generally take a long time to learn to speak, read or understand words. Most AS kids, however, have little impairment in their language development skills. While they may not communicate with too many people, this is due to social impairment and not a problem with speaking or reading
This one is quite controversial, but the view is that impaired motor coordination and skills are found in people with AS but not in people with HFA.
Each of these differences are being debated today as many children who show one difference but not the other get diagnosed with either one of the disorders. Thus, we now have children whose are being diagnosed almost interchangeably, depending on the doctor’s inclination.
Which brings us to similarities in HFA and AS:
– People with both HFA and AS have average to above average IQs.
– They seem to have many development issues that require treatment, therapy and educational changes such as curriculum or teaching methods.
– Kids and adults with HFA and AS have trouble interacting and communicating with others.
While the debate continues, what you as a parent need to know are the areas of development that have obstacles in your child’s functioning. Treatment methods are generally common so it really doesn’t matter what your child has, as long as you can give him / her a happy childhood and prepare them for an independent adulthood.