Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 616–625 | Cite as

Differentiating Autism and Asperger Syndrome on the Basis of Language Delay or Impairment

  • Terry Bennett
  • Peter SzatmariEmail author
  • Susan Bryson
  • Joanne Volden
  • Lonnie Zwaigenbaum
  • Liezanne Vaccarella
  • Eric Duku
  • Michael Boyle
Original Paper


Asperger syndrome (AS) is differentiated from high-functioning autism (HFA) largely on a history of “language delay.” This study examined “specific language impairment” as a predictor of outcome. Language skills of 19 children with AS and 45 with HFA were assessed at 4–6 years of age (Time 1) and 2 years later (Time 2). Children’s symptoms and functional outcome scores were assessed every 2 years (Times 3, 4, and 5) until ages 15–17 years old. Regression analysis revealed that specific language impairment at time 2 more often accounted for the greatest variation in outcome scores in adolescence than the standard diagnosis of AS versus HFA based on history of language delay. Diagnostic implications are discussed.


Autism Asperger syndrome Language impairment Outcomes 



This research project was funded by the Ontario Mental Health Foundation. We would like to acknowledge the children and families who have participated so faithfully in this project over several years.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terry Bennett
    • 1
  • Peter Szatmari
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Susan Bryson
    • 3
  • Joanne Volden
    • 4
  • Lonnie Zwaigenbaum
    • 5
  • Liezanne Vaccarella
    • 1
  • Eric Duku
    • 1
  • Michael Boyle
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural NeurosciencesMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Offord Centre for Child StudiesHamiltonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Psychiatry, IWK Health CentreDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  4. 4.Speech Pathology and AudiologyUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  5. 5.Department of PediatricsUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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