Autism is a common diagnosis effecting 1 in 68 children. But understanding the diagnosis can be difficult, which is why Lee Health pediatric nurse practitioner Sherri Campbell says the sooner a child is screened, the sooner a diagnosis can be determined. “Our goal is to find them before they are three.”
And while Autism can be caught early, she says Asperger’s syndrome can be harder to detect. “I think the average age of diagnosis for Asperger’s is usually 8 or 9 years old because they speak on time. They might just be little socially awkward,” said Campbell.
The thing that sets Autism apart from Asperger’s syndrome is children with Asperger’s don’t have intellectual disabilities or language disorders, whereas, children with Autism generally have difficulty with communication and social skills,” she said.
But the two conditions can look very similar. “They both have issues with repetitive and restrictive behaviors, and that would be like opening and closing cabinet doors for 30 minutes or a preoccupation with light switches,” explained Campbell.
In fact, Asperger’s syndrome is now qualified by health experts as the higher functioning level of Autism. “Asperger’s, people still use the term, but in 2013 the diagnostic manual that’s put out by the American Psychological Association, they did away with it as a diagnosis. Now people still use it, but it’s inaccurate because Asperger’s is Autism,” she said.
Both are considered a lifelong diagnosis that can be managed with behavioral and speech therapy if diagnosed early.
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