Nov. 7, 2008 -- Question: How might some of the common symptoms differ when comparing autistic disorder with Asperger syndrome?
Answer: Autism and Asperger's syndrome differ really in a matter of degree around communication issues.
Both conditions are characterized by problems with social interactions, understanding how other people think, putting yourself in another person's shoes and often a very intense interest in objects or a limited array of interests.
The children with autism have intense communication difficulties, often cannot speak or cannot speak well, often have a hard time responding to conversations as they are going on.
The children with Asperger's syndrome are much better at speaking. That is the major difference between the two.
We expect that children with autism, as they improve, will have many of the characteristics of children with Asperger's syndrome, in that their interests may be very intense, their social interactions may not be as integrated as other kids, but their speech improves and they become indistinguishable from other children who [have] Asperger's syndrome.