Skip to content

    Autism Spectrum Disorders Health Center

    Font Size

    High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome

    Causes of High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome

    Autism runs in families. The underlying causes, however, are not known. Potential causes under investigation include:

    • Inherited genetic conditions
    • Other medical problems
    • Environmental factors

    The fact that higher levels of anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Tourette's syndrome and other tic disorders often occur in families with children with autism suggests some relationship among these different mental processes.

    Diagnosing High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome

    Children with high-functioning autism or Asperger's syndrome may not be diagnosed as early as children with more severe forms of autism. That's because the symptoms aren't as noticeable. Symptoms may not become a problem until a child is in school. A diagnosis is based on the doctor's assessment of the child's symptoms in three areas:

    • Social interactions: symptoms such as lack of eye contact or an inability to understand another person's feelings
    • Verbal and nonverbal communication: symptoms such as not speaking or repeating a phrase over and over again
    • Interests in activities, objects, or specialized information: symptoms such as playing with only a part of a toy or being obsessed with a particular topic

    The doctor may gather information about these areas by:

    • Conducting psychological testing
    • Establishing the history of the child's development
    • Interviewing parents and others who have frequent contact with the child
    • Observing the child's behavior
    • Requesting physical, neurological, developmental, or genetic testing
    • Seeking a speech and language assessment

    In addition, the doctor may request tests to rule out other causes of the behavior, such as hearing problems.

    Today on WebMD

    girl at window
    Symptoms within the first 2 years of a child’s life.
    boy playing a violin
    Where do they fall on the spectrum?
    Mother and daughter indoors playing
    Play therapy may undo the disorder in at-risk babies.
    preschool age girl sitting at desk
    What causes this rare condition?
    High Functioning Autism And Asperge Syndrome
    Gluten Free Diet Slideshow
    Mother and daughter indoors playing
    man on bicycle
    girl at window
    Mother hugging teenage son
    Understanding Rett Syndrome
    Home Care Tips

    WebMD Special Sections