High functioning autism
High functioning autism – or Asperger syndrome – is part of a broad spectrum of pervasive development disorders.
Asperger syndrome is at the high end of the spectrum and is a milder form of autism. It was officially included in the International Classification of Diseases in the 1990s.
First and foremost, it is characterised by a lack of social skills and communication as well as restricted and repetitive interests and activities. Asperger syndrome patients have a limited ability to hold a reciprocal conversation, have difficulty in interpreting unspoken signals and in understanding intentions and emotions. They often have a high level of vocabulary and use formal speech patterns.
For a number of years research has revealed a strong implication of genetic factors in the origin of Asperger syndrome. More recently, certain biological areas have been identified, in particular by the network teams belonging to FondaMental foundation. This has led to the identification of functional mutation of genes (NLGN3/4, SHANK3, NRXN1) that are implicated in the formation and maintenance of neural connections. Continuation of this work should result in better understanding and more appropriate management of the syndrome through the use of medicinal and educational therapy. Nevertheless, a number of questions remain unanswered. For this reason current research on autism is multidisciplinary: geneticists, psychiatrists, neuroradiologists, neuropsychologists work together to enhance the chances of understanding this complex syndrome.
Ongoing FondaMental research