Asperger’s vs. Autism: What’s the Difference?

When it comes to Asperger’s vs. autism, Asperger’s generally features less severe symptoms and more higher functioning.

Patients with Asperger’s can be extremely high-functioning and successful in their careers but have significant difficulties in interpersonal relations. In these patients, language skills can be on par with peers, even though their use of language can sometimes be described as odd or unconventional.  [i]

That said, it’s important to note that Asperger’s is no longer a standalone diagnosis; instead, disorders such as Asperger’s, Autistic Disorder, Childhood Disintegrate Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specific (PDD-NOS) are now all under the umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder. [ii]

Despite no longer being a separate diagnosis, Asperger’s remains an accurate description of the symptoms and characteristics of some people on the Autism Spectrum. At the Drake Institute, we find this former diagnosis helpful in understanding our patients’ unique experiences so we can apply appropriate and effective treatment.

Drawing on years of successful clinical experience working with Autistic patients, the Drake Institute has developed a non-invasive, non-drug treatment for Asperger’s and autism.  

To learn more about how the Drake Institute uses scientific technology like qEEG brain mapping and neurofeedback to treat autism or Asperger’s symptoms, call us at 1-800-700-4233 or fill out the free consultation form.  


What Is Asperger’s Syndrome?

In 1944, a pediatrician in Vienna named Hans Asperger noted unusual behaviors in certain children. These children were of typical intelligence and language development but had difficulties with socializing and communicating, like the challenges seen in autistic children. Their symptoms were much less severe than those diagnosed as autistic, and the lack of language delay was distinct from autism. [iii]

Asperger’s Syndrome (or Disorder) was added to the DSM-4 in 1994, separate from autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders. However, less than 20 years later, in 2013, the diagnosis was removed to be placed under the broader umbrella of Autism Spectrum Disorder. [iv]

So does that make Asperger’s the same as autism? Not exactly, while Asperger’s is now considered an Autism Spectrum Disorder, the symptoms are not as severe nor pervasive like they are in the former diagnosis of Autism. At the Drake Institute, we have helped many patients whose cluster of symptoms matched the previous diagnosis of Asperger’s Disorder and their treatment is not as challenging nor complex as the old classic disorder of Autism.

What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Asperger’s?

Symptoms of Asperger’s are similar to those of autism. They usually appear in early childhood, when the brain is still developing. Because Asperger’s is a neurodevelopmental disorder, there are no physical differences in appearance. Instead, symptoms are related to social communication and behavior, both of which are affected by brain dysregulation. Symptoms may include: [v]

  • Impaired Social Interaction & Nonverbal Communication
  • Restricted Interests
  • Repetitive Behaviors
  • A lack of awareness of how their behavior or actions affect others

What Is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is a neurodevelopmental disorder that ranges from mild to severe and includes repetitive behaviors, impaired social communication, restricted interests, and rigidity.

So far, research has not yet uncovered a definitive single cause of autism, but there are likely genetic, possibly prenatal, and childbirth complications, and environmental factors involved. The disorder can affect anyone, and some people may not receive a diagnosis until well into adulthood. According to recent research, one in every 68 children in the US has some sort of Autism Spectrum disorder. [vi] [vii]

Autism is not considered a curable disorder, but it can be significantly helped with appropriate early intervention. Earlier diagnosis and treatment are critical to ensuring the best improvement. There are even some extraordinary cases of autistic patients who no longer meet the criteria for a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder after receiving appropriate treatment.

What Are The Signs & Symptoms Of Autism?

Like Asperger’s, the signs and symptoms of autism are primarily based on social communication and behavior, which makes socializing and relating to peers extremely difficult. Because autism symptoms generally appear quite early, keeping track of development is crucial. Though some infant and toddler milestones may seem trivial, they are vital clues to gauging brain development.

Early signs of autism include: [viii]

  • Avoids eye contact
  • Doesn’t respond to name by 9 months of age
  • Lack of facial expressions (e.g., happy, sad, angry, etc.) by 9 months of age
  • Doesn’t play simple interactive games (e.g., pat-e-cake) by 12 months of age
  • Uses few or no hand gestures (e.g., doesn’t wave hello or goodbye) by 12 months of age
  • Doesn’t share interests with others (e.g., doesn’t show you their favorite toy) by 15 months of age
  • Doesn’t point to show you something interesting by 18 months of age
  • Doesn’t notice when others are hurt or upset by 24 months of age
  • Doesn’t notice other children and play with them by 36 months of age
  • Doesn’t pretend to be someone else (e.g., teacher, superhero, etc.) by 48 months of age
  • Doesn’t sing, act, or dance for you by 60 months of age

How Does Asperger’s Compare to Autism? 

So what is the difference between Asperger’s and autism?

Asperger’s differs from autism in one significant way; children with Asperger’s may have less severe symptoms and no language delay. In fact, people with Asperger’s may even have advanced speech and language skills, but poor pragmatic or socially appropriate language.

For example, they may go on and on about a topic of interest to them without realizing the other person is not interested, or they may be brutally honest without realizing they’ve offended someone. Their brain may not be processing or understanding how they are affecting others. They may also have problems understanding humor, sarcasm, and sympathy, and they can be prone to interpreting things too literally, or in black-and-white terms. [ix]

When it comes to cognitive ability and Asperger’s vs. autism, people with Asperger’s must not, by definition of the disorder, have a “clinically significant” cognitive impairment. In fact, many people with the disorder are of average or advanced cognitive ability. [x]

One study even found that “typically, [people with Asperger’s Syndrome] show above average or superior verbal IQ” and “outperform in the test of fluid reasoning.” [xi]

To know for sure if it is Asperger’s or autism, a clinical evaluation is required.

How The Drake Institute Treats Asperger’s & Autism

Treating Asperger’s and autism is individualized to each patient’s symptoms and needs, especially since symptoms can vary significantly from person to person.

The Drake Institute uses specialized, advanced technologies like qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neurostimulation to help reduce the severity of symptoms from Autism Spectrum Disorders

The Drake Institute uses the following clinical technologies to help patients with brain-based disorders

Brain Mapping

Along with the clinical evaluation, brain mapping is one of the first steps in addressing Asperger’s and autism symptoms. Brain mapping utilizes 19 sensors placed on the patient’s scalp in predetermined locations of the brain. These areas are responsible for focus, executive functioning, memory, language, social processing, emotional regulation, and more. The sensors measure brain activity and the results are analyzed to identify any areas or brain networks that are dysregulated linked to symptoms. Our Medical Director connects the findings on the QEEG to what is happening with the patient so that he can develop an individualized and effective treatment protocol.


During neurofeedback therapy, sensors are once again placed on the scalp. Our neurofeedback treatment protocols enable the patient to shift their brain activity to more functional patterns that can reduce symptoms. At this time, in order to maximize improvement, our Medical Director reviews the need for laboratory blood testing to rule out biomedical abnormalities that may need to be addressed if present.


As an adjunct to neurofeedback, we often use qEEG brain map-guided neurostimulation to gently stimulate the brain into healthier functional patterns that can maximize improvement. We have found this particularly helpful for children suffering from more severe symptoms.

Contact The Drake Institute Today!

For over forty years, Drake has helped patients with various disorders such as autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression, insomnia, migraine headaches, and hypertension to reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of life. Call us at 1-800-700-4233 or fill out the free consultation form.













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“David F. Velkoff, M.D., our Medical Director and co-founder, supervises all evaluation procedures and treatment programs. He is recognized as a physician pioneer in using biofeedback, qEEG brain mapping, neurofeedback, and neuromodulation in the treatment of ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and stress related illnesses including anxiety, depression, insomnia, and high blood pressure. Dr. David Velkoff earned his Master’s degree in Psychology from the California State University at Los Angeles in 1975, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta in 1976. This was followed by Dr. Velkoff completing his internship in Obstetrics and Gynecology with an elective in Neurology at the University of California Medical Center in Irvine. He then shifted his specialty to Neurophysical Medicine and received his initial training in biofeedback/neurofeedback in Neurophysical Medicine from the leading doctors in the world in biofeedback at the renown Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas. In 1980, he co-founded the Drake Institute of Neurophysical Medicine. Seeking to better understand the link between illness and the mind, Dr. Velkoff served as the clinical director of an international research study on psychoneuroimmunology with the UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, and the Pasteur Institute in Paris. This was a follow-up study to an earlier clinical collaborative effort with UCLA School of Medicine demonstrating how the Drake Institute's stress treatment resulted in improved immune functioning of natural killer cell activity. Dr. Velkoff served as one of the founding associate editors of the scientific publication, Journal of Neurotherapy. He has been an invited guest lecturer at Los Angeles Children's Hospital, UCLA, Cedars Sinai Medical Center-Thalians Mental Health Center, St. John's Hospital in Santa Monica, California, and CHADD. He has been a medical consultant in Neurophysical Medicine to CNN, National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, Univision, and PBS.”

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