Asperger syndrome is diagnosed in children and adults. Adults with Asperger syndrome also commonly seek treatment for depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Asperger syndrome is currently considered an ASD, and it is sometimes referred to as high-functioning autism. Asperger syndrome is often bundled with autism or ASDs in research projects and is rarely studied on its own because experts are still uncertain whether Asperger is its own disorder or simply a mild form of autism.
The NICHD's ASD research portfolio is primarily under the purview of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Branch, which funds extramural research on ASD and other IDDs. The NICHD also conducts some autism-related research projects through its intramural program.
Research goals include:
- Improving strategies for early screening and diagnosis
- Identifying and characterizing susceptibility genes
- Understanding the neuropathology of ASD and ASD-related behaviors
- Understanding the role of endocrine, metabolic, and immunologic pathways in ASD
- Studying how environmental factors interact with genetic susceptibility to produce the ASD phenotype
- Understanding cognitive, linguistic, and emotional development in ASD
- Testing potential interventions for ASD
- Developing preventive strategies for ASD
- Developing and supporting research infrastructure to aid in ASD investigations
- Understanding the prevention, etiology, and treatment of conditions that often occur with ASD, such as anxiety and depression