Autism & Asperger’s

Autism, High-Functioning Autism (HFA),  Asperger’s Syndrome, and PDD-NOS are a group of disorders often referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).


Autism is a complex developmental disorder that typically appears during the first three years of life.  People with Autism shows  impairments in three main areas:

  • Social development
  • Language and communication
  • Rigidity of thoughts and behaviours

In addition to these three areas, people with Autism often have unusual responses to sensory experiences.

High-Functioning Autism (HFA)

Approximately 80 per cent of children diagnosed with Autism will also have an Intellectual Disability (ID).  This is determined by testing procedures, which verify that the child has an IQ below 70.  The remaining 20 per cent of children diagnosed with Autism will not have an Intellectual Disability, and will be termed as having “High-Functioning Autism”. Those with High-Functioning Autism will still suffer impairments in social development, language and communication, and rigidity of thoughts and behaviours.

Asperger’s Syndrome

Asperger’s Syndrome was first identified by Hans Asperger, a Viennese physician in the 1940’s. He researched and wrote papers on a group of boys who had difficulty with social interaction and who displayed an unusual use of language. What distinguishes Asperger’s Syndrome from Autism is that those with Asperger’s Syndrome generally display no delay in cognition or language development.

Individuals diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome also have deficits in the three main areas of development (social development, language and communication, and rigidity of thoughts and behaviours), but generally not to the same extent as those diagnosed with Autism.  People with Asperger Syndrome suffer extreme difficulties with socialisation, anxiety, and processing sensory information. All of these factors impact on their ability to function in society.

Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

PDD-NOS is a diagnostic term for individuals showing characteristics of Autism, but not sufficiently severe to meet the criteria required for Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome.  Children with a diagnosis of PDD-NOS will benefit from the same type of early intervention required for children with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome.

For a more detailed explanation go to:

AMAZE (previously Autism Victoria)