Diagnostic Criteria

A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

  1. marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction
  2. failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
  3. a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)
  4. lack of social or emotional reciprocity

B. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

  1. encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
  2. apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals
  3. stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
  4. persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

C. The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

D. There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years).

E. There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood.

F. Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia.

Differential Diagnosis

Asperger's Disorder is not diagnosed if criteria are met for another Pervasive Developmental Disorder or for Schizophrenia.

Other Pervasive Developmental Disorders

Autistic Disorder

Asperger's Disorder can be distinguished from Autistic Disorder by the lack of delay in language development. Asperger's Disorder is not diagnosed if the criteria are met for Autistic Disorder

Rett's Disorder

Rett's Disorder differs from Asperger's Disorder in its characteristic sex ratio, onset, and pattern of deficits. Rett's Disorder has been diagnosed only in females, whereas Asperger's Disorder appears to be more common in males. In Rett's Disorder, there is a characteristic pattern of head growth deceleration, loss of previously acquired purposeful hand skills, and the appearance of poorly coordinated gait or trunk movements. In contrast to Asperger's Disorder, Rett's disorder is characterized by a severe impairment in expressive and receptive language development.

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder

In contrast to Asperger's Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder is characterized by a clinically significant loss in previously acquired skills and a greater likelihood of Mental Retardation. In Asperger's Disorder, there is no delay in language development and no marked loss of developmental skills.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Asperger's Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder share repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior. In contrast to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Asperger's Disorder is characterized by a qualitative impairment in social interaction and a more restricted pattern of interests and activities.

Schizoid Personality Disorder

In contrast to Schizoid Personality Disorder, Asperger's Disorder is characterized by stereotyped behaviors and interests and by more severely impaired social interaction.


See 'Autism Spectrum Disorder'

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