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What are Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome?

Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome a wide variety.
We recognize that that there is a wide variety within Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome

Our students and clients with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome are celebrated for their uniqueness. At the Haugland family of companies, we recognize that that there is a wide variety within Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Autism and Asperger's SyndromeAt the same time, we like to capitalize on the strengths that are common to ASD, such as the ability to think visually other than thinking in pictures, a preference for concrete verses abstract concepts, and the ability to focus on specific topics and interests when sufficiently motivated.

Please visit the other areas of our website to learn more about our programs and services. 

Symptoms Of Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome

Autism Spectrum Disorder (commonly referred to as “Autism” or sometimes “Asperger’s Syndrome”) is a condition that is typically manifested early in life (typically by 24 months) by the following characteristics:

  • Problems With Social Interactions And Communication


  •  Avoids eye contact
  •  Limited range of facial expressions
  •  Problems making or keeping friends
  •  One-sided conversational style
  •  Absence of spoken language
  •  Limited use of gestures
  • Odd Behavior


  •  Under or over-reactive to sensory input
  •  Resistance to changes in routine (insists on same food, clothing, etc.)
  •  Intense hobbies
  •  Restricted range of interests (fixates on objects such as light switches)
  •  Repetitive movements (lining up objects)
  •  Repetitive speech (repeats “scripts” overheard from TV shows/movies)

Description Of Autism And Asperger’s Syndrome

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) categorized the following diagnoses under Pervasive Developmental Disorders:

  •  Autistic Disorder (Autism)
  •  Rett’s Disorder
  •  Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
  •  Asperger’s Disorder (also known as “Asperger’s syndrome”)
  •  Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Fifth Edition (DSM-5) published in May 2013 combined the above diagnoses into a single diagnosis: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This was based on the rationale that ASD is defined by a common set of behaviors and due to ongoing debate about the boundaries between Autism and “less stigmatizing” diagnoses of Asperger’s and PDD-NOS.

The concept of Not Otherwise Specified (NOS) for any disorder, which was introduced in the DSM-IV and meant to communicate that the individual’s presentation did not meet the full diagnostic criteria of a given disorder, was eliminated for all diagnoses in the DSM-5.

According to the DSM-5, individuals with established DSM-IV diagnoses of Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, or PDD-NOS should qualify for a DSM-5 diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

However, for persons who show problems in social communication only (category A, at left) but do not currently exhibit (or have not exhibited when younger) restricted patterns of behavior, interests, or activities (category B, at left) the appropriate diagnosis would be Social (Pragmatic) Communication Disorder.

This is a new diagnosis that first appeared in the DSM-5 and, like Autism Spectrum Disorder and Intellectual Disability (formerly known as Mental Retardation), falls under the broader category of Neurodevelopmental Disorders. It remains to be seen for which type of services individuals given this relatively new diagnosis will qualify.


  •   LEVEL 1:  Requiring support
  •   LEVEL 2:  Requiring substantial support
  •   LEVEL 3:  Requiring very substantial support

These descriptors are not to be used to determine service eligibility, but rather to provide more information about an individual’s current level of functioning when exhibiting symptoms of Autism or Asperger’s syndrome.