The answer, quite simply, is no. Absolutely not. There are distinctive diagnostic differences between autism and Asperger’s that make them clearly two different disorders. It needs to be addressed that autism refers to a broad spectrum of pervasive developmental disorders as well as its own disorder. Encompassed within the autism spectrum are autism, Asperger’s, PDD-NOS, and two others which have recently been reclassified as autism spectrum disorders.
Admittedly this can be quite confusing for parents who are just beginning their journey with their child through the world of Asperger’s, since their child was seemingly quite “normal” until a professional from either school or a clinic noticed the child was a little different. The most striking difference is the inability to understand certain expressions in speech. Idioms, homilies, metaphors, and similes don’t make sense to most autism spectrum children. With Asperger’s children who have been able to speak since toddlerhood, this really stands out as odd.
Another problem is the social interactions between the Asperger’s child and his or her peers. Social interaction is always a problem but here it turns violent and even volatile. Peers can be injured by the Asperger’s child who has completely misconstrued what the other child has said or done. Social coaches are assigned to these students in school to help them navigate social situations better and without aggression.
Daily routines can’t be interrupted or altered at the last minute for a child with Asperger’s. It causes extreme anxiety and outbursts. Transitions have to be part of the day, such that he or she knows what to expect next. Their sense of security is dependent entirely upon strict structured routine. Children with autism need structure too, but not to the extent that most Asperger’s children do. It complicates your whole life, because you don’t have an ounce of flexibility in your day, but you do get used to it.