The High-Functioning Group: High-Functioning Autism and Asperger Syndrome in Adults

  • Bernardo Barahona-CorrêaEmail author


Although usually diagnosed in childhood, autism spectrum disorders are lifelong conditions that affect at least as many adults as schizophrenia. Despite this, the majority of mental health professionals working in adult mental health care are insufficiently trained for diagnosing and treating autism in adults. This is particularly worrisome as not only subjects with ASD remain severely impaired in adult age, but also because a substantial proportion of more able individuals with an ASD may go undiagnosed until adult age, although not necessarily less impaired than high-functioning individuals diagnosed as children.

This chapter will review our current knowledge on the adult outcome of high-functioning subjects with ASD, their needs, and their strengths. Special emphasis is laid on discussing which factors are predictive of a good outcome in adult age, the impact of psychiatric comorbidity on this outcome, and the longitudinal evolution, from childhood to adult age, of ASD core symptoms, associated psychosocial disability, and other significant clinical features of this special population. Additionally, this chapter offers the reader an extensive review of the currently available literature on subjects who are first diagnosed with ASD as adults: What are their clinical features? Why do these subjects remain undiagnosed until so late? What brings them to contact mental health services at this late stage of their development? What are their special needs and how do they function psychosocially? How do they react to their novel diagnosis? In particular, this chapter addresses the unique diagnostic difficulties posed by this specific subgroup of adults with ASD, with special attention given to the difficult issues of differential diagnosis and psychiatric comorbidity.


Autism Spectrum Disorder Autism Spectrum Disorder Personality Disorder Asperger Syndrome Autism Spectrum Disorder Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CADIN – NeurodevelopmentChampalimaud Foundation Clinical Centre, Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown, Nova Medical School – NOVA University of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry and Mental HealthHospital Egas MonizLisbonPortugal

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