The brain activity of children with Asperger’s syndrome is different from children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to a new study. Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital, using electroencephalography (EEG), were able to tell the difference between children with Asperger’s syndrome and those with ASD based on the electrical activity in their brains.
In this study, researchers compared the EEG or brain wave recordings of children diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome to those of children with ASD. The researchers, “Frank H. Duffy and colleagues at the Departments of Neurology and Psychiatry of Boston Children’s,” analysed the EEG data. They found that, “although the disorders were closely related, there were clear neurophysiological differences between the groups.”
Asperger’s syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder according to the National Institutes for Health (NIH). The NIH states that Asperger’s is “characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and restrictive, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior.” Asperger’s is synonymous with high functioning autism.
The American Academy of Pediatrics explains that Asperger’s syndrome was a distinct “sub-diagnosis” of autism until recently. All sub-diagnoses of autism, including Asperger’s syndrome, were removed when the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was revised earlier this year. Under the DSM-5, there is only one diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.
Dropping Asperger’s syndrome from the DSM 5 was “one of the most hotly argued topics” surrounding the revisions to the DSM according to CBS News. CBS commented that this change was controversial because physicians, medical insurers and schools use the diagnostic criteria in the DSM. For example, schools may allocate certain resources to children with special needs depending on their diagnosis.
The authors of this study suggest their results show Asperger’s “could usefully be defined as a distinct entity within the autism spectrum” although further study is needed. These results may spark further controversy over the removal of Asperger’s syndrome as a separate diagnosis in the DSM.
The study, “The relationship of Asperger’s syndrome to autism –A preliminary EEG coherence study”, is available online at BMC Medicine.
Further information about Asperger’s syndrome is available on WebMD.
Fresh fuel reignites Asperger’s debate
The relationship of Asperger’s syndrome to autism –A preliminary EEG coherence study