OCASG provides support for Orange County adults, children and their families who are dealing with the three high-functioning autism spectrum disorders: Asperger’s Syndrome (AS), High-Functioning Autism (HFA) and PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified). According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), these are all Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs). (See CDC at http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html.) ASDs are a group of developmental disabilities that can cause significant social, communicative and behavioral challenges. People with ASDs handle information in their brain differently than other people.
ASDs are “spectrum disorders.” That means ASDs affect each person in different ways, and can range from very mild to severe. People with ASDs share some similar symptoms, such as problems with social interaction. But there are differences in when the symptoms start, how severe they are and the exact nature of the symptoms.
There are three different types of ASDs:
This is what most people think of when hearing the word “autism.” People with autistic disorder usually have significant language delays, social and communication challenges, and unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with autistic disorder also have intellectual disability. High Functioning Autism (HFA) is a term applied to autistic people who are deemed to be "higher functioning" than other autistic people, by one or more metrics. The amount of overlap between HFA and Asperger Syndrome is disputed. Some researchers argue that the two are distinct diagnostic entities, others argue that they are indistinguishable.
People with Asperger syndrome usually have some milder symptoms of autistic disorder. They might have social challenges and unusual behaviors and interests. However, they typically do not have problems with language or intellectual disability. The Mayo Clinic has a good overview of Asperger’s: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/aspergers-syndrome/DS00551
Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS; also called “atypical autism”)
People who meet some of the criteria for autistic disorder or Asperger's syndrome, but not all, may be diagnosed with PDD-NOS. People with PDD-NOS usually have fewer and milder symptoms than those with autistic disorder. The symptoms might cause only social and communication challenges.
There are many good web sites with information about Asperger’s, HFA and PDD-NOS. The web provides a wealth of information.