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Disease Profile

Asperger syndrome

Prevalence estimates on Rare Medical Network websites are calculated based on data available from numerous sources, including US and European government statistics, the NIH, Orphanet, and published epidemiologic studies. Rare disease population data is recognized to be highly variable, and based on a wide variety of source data and methodologies, so the prevalence data on this site should be assumed to be estimated and cannot be considered to be absolutely correct.


US Estimated

Europe Estimated

Age of onset





Autosomal dominant A pathogenic variant in only one gene copy in each cell is sufficient to cause an autosomal dominant disease.


Autosomal recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of each gene of the chromosome are needed to cause an autosomal recessive disease and observe the mutant phenotype.


dominant X-linked dominant inheritance, sometimes referred to as X-linked dominance, is a mode of genetic inheritance by which a dominant gene is carried on the X chromosome.


recessive Pathogenic variants in both copies of a gene on the X chromosome cause an X-linked recessive disorder.


Mitochondrial or multigenic Mitochondrial genetic disorders can be caused by changes (mutations) in either the mitochondrial DNA or nuclear DNA that lead to dysfunction of the mitochondria and inadequate production of energy.


Multigenic or multifactor Inheritance involving many factors, of which at least one is genetic but none is of overwhelming importance, as in the causation of a disease by multiple genetic and environmental factors.


Not applicable


Other names (AKA)

Asperger disorder


Behavioral and mental disorders


Asperger syndrome is part of the autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a group of disorders that affects the development of social and communication skills.[1][2] Unlike many children with ASD, children with Asperger syndrome do not have early language delays, and often have well developed language skills and normal to above average intelligence. However, they may use unusual speech patterns and have a hard time understanding irony, humor, and sarcasm or gestures and social cues important to normal conversation.[3] Many children with Asperger syndrome develop an obsessive interest in one topic or object. They may use high-level vocabulary or complex statistics in conversation.[1][3] Children with Asperger syndrome may have delayed motor skills and thus can appear uncoordinated and clumsy compared to their peers. Other features of Asperger syndrome include difficulty interacting with peers, inappropriate social or emotional behavior, and engaging in repetitive routines.[1] Both children and adults with Asperger syndrome are at an increased risk for depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mood and anxiety disorders, and other mental health disorders.[4]

The cause of Asperger syndrome, like most ASDs, is not fully understood, but there is a strong genetic basis, which means it does tend to run in families.[5][6][7] Multiple environmental factors are also thought to play an important role in the development of all ASDs.[6]

Treatment for Asperger syndrome depends on each person's age and needs, and the recommendation is for treatment to begin as early as possible.[1][8] Many people with Asperger syndrome can learn strategies to manage their symptoms.[1] Treatment may include behavioral therapy, speech and language therapy, support in school, and mental health counseling. Medications may sometimes be used for behavioral or mood disorders.[8] 

Of note: the  newest edition, updated in 2013, of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM-V), which is used predominantly in the United States (US), replaced the terms Asperger syndrome and other pervasive developmental disorders with the umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.[2] This means that currently, Asperger syndrome is not officially considered a separate disorder in US, but instead it is now part of the autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, many doctors still use this term.[3] The World Health Organization International Classification of Diseases, (ICD-11) which is used in other countries throughout the world still uses Asperger syndrome as a subtype of ASD.[8]


Support and advocacy groups can help you connect with other patients and families, and they can provide valuable services. Many develop patient-centered information and are the driving force behind research for better treatments and possible cures. They can direct you to research, resources, and services. Many organizations also have experts who serve as medical advisors or provide lists of doctors/clinics. Visit the group’s website or contact them to learn about the services they offer. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement by GARD.

Organizations Supporting this Disease

    Learn more

    These resources provide more information about this condition or associated symptoms. The in-depth resources contain medical and scientific language that may be hard to understand. You may want to review these resources with a medical professional.

    Where to Start

    • MedlinePlus was designed by the National Library of Medicine to help you research your health questions, and it provides more information about this topic.
    • The Merck Manual provides information on this condition for patients and caregivers.
    • The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) collects and disseminates research information related to neurological disorders. Click on the link to view information on this topic.

      In-Depth Information

      • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
      • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
      • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Asperger syndrome. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.


        1. Asperger Syndrome Information Page. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Asperger-Syndrome-Information-Page. Accessed 11/15/2017.
        2. American Psychiatric Association. Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association Publishing; 2013;
        3. Asperger's Syndrome. Autism Society. https://www.autism-society.org/what-is/aspergers-syndrome/. Accessed 11/15/2017.
        4. Gillberg IC, Helles A, Billstedt E, Gillberg C. Boys with Asperger Syndrome Grow Up: Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Disorders 20 Years After Initial Diagnosis. J Autism Dev Disord. January, 2016; 46(1):74:82. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26210519.
        5. Schaefer GB. Clinical Genetic Aspects of ASD Spectrum Disorders. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2016; 17(2):January 29, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4783914/.
        6. Mandy W, Lai MC. Annual Research Review: The role of the environment in the developmental psychopathology of autism spectrum condition. J Child Psychol Psychiatry. March 2016; 57(3):271-92. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26782158.
        7. Johannessen J, Nærland T, Hope S, et al. Parents’ Attitudes toward Clinical Genetic Testing for Autism Spectrum Disorder—Data from a Norwegian Sample. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. May 18, 2017; 18(5):1078. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5454987/.
        8. von Hahn LE. Asperger syndrome (a specific autism spectrum disorder): Management and prognosis in children and adolescents. UpToDate. Waltham, MA: UpToDate; November 29, 2016; https://www.uptodate.com/contents/asperger-syndrome-a-specific-autism-spectrum-disorder-management-and-prognosis-in-children-and-adolescents.

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