European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 475–481 | Cite as

Asperger’s syndrome and high-functioning autism: language, motor and cognitive profiles

  • Michele NoterdaemeEmail author
  • Elke Wriedt
  • Christian Höhne
Original Contribution


The objective of this study is to compare the cognitive profile, the motor and language functioning and the psychosocial adaptation of children with Asperger syndrome (AS) and with high-functioning autism (HFA). Subjects were recruited through the department Autism and Developmental Disorders of the Heckscher-Klinikum. To be included in the study, the full-scale-IQ had to be at least 80. Subjects with AS had to have a normal early language development and subjects with HFA a clear delay in language development, as reported by their parents. The sample consisted of 57 children with Asperger syndrome and 55 children with high-functioning autism. The mean age of the children was 10 years. All subjects were examined with a standardised test battery. Children with AS had a higher full-scale-IQ than children with HFA. This was due to a higher verbal-IQ. There were no significant differences in the performance-IQ. At a mean age of 10 years, subjects with AS had better language skills than subjects with HFA, but at least 30% showed clear receptive language problems. Motor problems were present in about 50% of the children with AS and HFA. The level of psychosocial adaptation was clearly reduced, but was comparable for the two groups. The differences in verbal-IQ and language skills between the two groups could be explained through the definition of the syndromes. The presence of language problems in the subjects with AS at age 10, the comparable degree of motor impairment and level of psychosocial adaptation question the validity of the distinction between AS and HFA within the category of pervasive developmental disorders.


Asperger syndrome High-functioning autism Intelligence Language impairment Motor disorder 


  1. 1.
    Asperger H (1944) Die autistischen Psychopathien im Kindesalter. Archiv Psychiatr Nervenkr 117:76–136CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Eisenmajer R, Prior M, Leekam S, Wing L, Ong B, Gould J, Welham M (1998) Delayed language onset as a predictor of clinical symptoms in pervasive developmental disorders. J Autism Dev Dis 28:527–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Elben C, Lohaus A (2000) Marburger Sprachverständnistest für Kinder (MSVK). Hogrefe, BernGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ehlers S, Gillberg C (1993) The epidemiology of Asperger syndrome: a total population study. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 34:1327–1350CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Fox A (2007) Test zur Überprüfung des Grammatikverständnisses (TROG-D). Schulz-Kirchner, IdsteinGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Ghaziuddin M, Mountain-Kimchi K (2004) Defining the intellectual profile of Asperger syndrome: comparison with high-functioning autism. J Autism Dev Dis 34:279–284CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Gilchrist A, Green J, Cox A, Burton D, Rutter M, Le Couteur A (2001) Development and current functioning in adolescents with Asperger syndrome: a comparative study. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 42:227–240CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Gillberg I, Gillberg C (1989) Asperger syndrome: some epidemiological considerations-a research note. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 30:631–638CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Grimm H, Schöler H (1978) Heidelberger Sprachentwicklungstest (HSET). Hogrefe, GöttingenGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Howlin P (2003) Outcome in high functioning adults with autism with and without early language delays: Implications for the differentiation between autism and Asperger syndrome. J Autism Dev Dis 33:3–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Kenworthy L, Black D, Wallace G, Ahluvalia T, Wagner A, Sirian L (2005) Disorganisation: the forgotten executive dysfunctions in high-functioning autism (HFA) spectrum disorders. Dev Neuropsychol 28:809–827CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Klin A, Pauls D, Schultz R, Volkmar F (2005) Three diagnostic approaches to Asperger syndrome: implications for research. J Autism Dev Dis 35:221–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Koyama T, Tachimori H, Osada H, Takeda T, Kurita H (2007) Cognitive and symptom profiles in Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci 6:99–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Lord C, Rutter M, Le Couteur A (1994) Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised: a revised version of a diagnostic interview for caregivers of individuals with possible pervasive developmental disorders. J Autism Dev Dis 24:659–685CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Lord C, Risi S, Lambrecht L, Cook E, Leventhal B, Dilavore P, Pickles A, Rutter M (2000) The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-Generic: a standard measure of social and communication deficits associated with the spectrum of autism. J Autism Dev Dis 30:205–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Mawhood L, Howlin P, Rutter M (2000) Autism and developmental receptive language disorder-a comparative follow-up in early adult life. I: cognitive and language outcomes. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 41:547–559CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Manjiviona J, Prior M (1995) Comparison of Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autistic children on a test of motor impairment. J Autism Dev Dis 25:23–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    McAlonan G, Suckling J, Wong N, Cheung V, Lienenkämpter N, Cheung C, Chua S (2008) Distinct patterns of grey matter abnormality in high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 49:1287–1295CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    McAlonan G, Cheung C, Cheung V, Wong N, Suckling J, Chua S (2009) Differential effects on white matter systems in high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome. Psychological Medicine 1-9 (Epub)Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Noterdaeme M, Mildenberger M, Minow F, Amorosa A (2002) Evaluation of neuromotor deficits in children with autism and children with a specific speech and language disorder. Eur J Child Adolesc Psychiatry 11:219–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Noterdaeme M, Mildenberger M, Sitter S, Amorosa A (2002) Parent information and direct observation in the diagnosis of pervasive and specific developmental disorders. Autism 6:159–168CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Noterdaeme M, Kurz U, Mildenberger M, Sitter S, Amorosa A (1999) Ausschluß rezeptiver Sprachstörungen mittels des ADOS (Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule). Z Kinder Jugendpsychiatr Psychother 27:251–257CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Ozonoff S, South M, Miller J (2000) DSM-IV-defined Asperger syndrome: cognitive, behavioral and early history differentiation from high-functioning autism. Autism 4:29–46Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Ozonoff S, Rogers S, Pennington B (1991) Asperger’s syndrome evidence of an empirical distinction from high-functioning autism. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 3:1107–1122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Remschmidt H, Schmidt M, Poustka F (2001) Multiaxiales Klassifikationschema für psychsiche Störungen des Kindes- und Jugendalters nach ICD-10. 4. Auflage. Huber, BernGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Rinehart N, Bradshaw J, Moss S, Brereton A, Tone B (2001) A deficit in shifting attention present in high-functioning autism but not in Asperger’s disorder. Autism 5:67–80CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Saulnier C, Klin A (2007) Brief report: social and communication abilities and disabilities in higher functioning individuals with autism and Asperger syndrome. J Autism Dev Dis 37:788–793CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Steinert J (1978) ADST Allgemeiner Deutscher SprachtestADST. Westermann, BraunschweigGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Szatmari P, Bartolucci G, Bremner R (1989) Asperger’s syndrome and autism: comparison of early history and outcome. Dev Med Child Neurol 31:709–720PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Tantam D (1988) Asperger’s syndrome. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 29:245–255CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Tewes U, Schallberger P, Rossman U (1999) HAWIK-III Hamburg-Wechsler-Intelligenztest für Kinder. Huber, BernGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Tewes U (1984) HAWIE-R: Hamburg-Wechsler Intelligenztest für Erwachsene-Revision. Huber, BernGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Wing L (1981) Asperger’s syndrome: a clinical account. Psychol Med 11:115–129CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Wing L (2000) Past and future of research on Asperger syndrome. In: Klin A, Volkmar F, Sparrow S (eds) Asperger syndrome. Guildford, New York, pp 418–432Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    World Health Organization (1991) Internationale Klassifikation psychischer Störungen. ICD-10 Kapitel V (f). Dilling H, Monbour W, Schmidt M. Huber, BernGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michele Noterdaeme
    • 1
    Email author
  • Elke Wriedt
    • 2
  • Christian Höhne
    • 2
  1. 1.Klinik für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie und PsychotherapieAugsburgGermany
  2. 2.Heckscher Klinikum für Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie, Psychosomatik und PsychotherapieMunichGermany

Personalised recommendations