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Misdiagnosis of Asperger syndrome

Misdiagnosis of Asperger syndrome

Asperger syndrome can be a difficult diagnosis to make because there is no single test to detect it. An accurate diagnosis generally requires the evaluation of a team of professionals who are specialists in developmental disorders.

In addition, the symptoms of Asperger syndrome are similar to some symptoms of some other disorders. This can result in a delayed or missed diagnosis. For example, some people with Asperger syndrome may be misdiagnosed with "mild" form of autism disorder. However the two conditions are different and distinct disorders. Children and people with Asperger syndrome may also be misdiagnosed with other conditions with some similar behaviors, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)....more about Asperger syndrome »

Alternative diagnoses list for Asperger syndrome:

For a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, the following list of conditions have been mentioned in sources as possible alternative diagnoses to consider during the diagnostic process for Asperger syndrome:

  • Autism - Asperger syndrome is similar to autism with good language function.

Diseases for which Asperger syndrome may be an alternative diagnosis

The other diseases for which Asperger syndrome is listed as a possible alternative diagnosis in their lists include:

Asperger syndrome: Medical Mistakes

Related medical mistakes may include:

Asperger syndrome: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed conditions in related areas may include:

Discussion of diagnosis/misdiagnosis of Asperger syndrome:

Some individuals who exhibit features of autism (a developmental brain disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication skills) but who have well-developed language skills may be diagnosed with AS, although high-functioning autism differs from AS in early language delay. (Source: excerpt from NINDS Asperger Syndrome Information Page: NINDS)

Common Misdiagnoses and Asperger syndrome

Mild worm infections undiagnosed in children: Human worm infestations, esp. threadworm, can be overlooked in some cases, because it may cause only mild or even absent symptoms. Although the most common symptoms are anal itch (or vaginal itch), which are obvious in severe cases, milder conditions may fail to be noticed in children. In particular, it may interfere with the child's good night's sleep. Threadworm is a condition to consider in children with symptoms such as bedwetting (enuresis), difficulty sleeping, irritability, or other sleeping symptoms. Visual inspection of the region can often see the threadworms, at night when they are active, but they can also be missed this way, and multiple inspections can be warranted if worms are suspected. See the introduction to threadworm.

Parental fears about toddler behavior often unfounded: There are many behaviors in infants and toddlers that may give rise to a fear that the child has some form of mental health condition. In particular, there is a loss of fear of autism or ADHD in parents. However, parents should understand that the chances are higher that it's part of normal development, and perhaps just a "cute behavior" rather than a serious condition. Although parents should be vigilant about monitoring all aspects of their child's development and mental health, they should also take care not to over-worry and miss out on some of the delights of parenthood. For example, a young child that screams when you open his car door to take him out, then makes you put him back into the car to repeat it, so that he can open the car door himself, is not necessarily showing signs of autism or OCD, nor indeed any mental illness. There is a small possibility that it's an abnormality (a chance that increases with age of the child), but it's also the type of behavior seen in many normal children. See the introduction to autism and introduction to ADHD.

Undiagnosed stroke leads to misdiagnosed aphasia: BBC News UK reported on a man who had been institutionalized and treated for mental illness because he suffered from sudden inability to speak. This was initially misdiagnosed as a "nervous breakdown" and other mental conditions. He was later diagnosed as having had a stroke, and suffering from aphasia (inability to speak), a well-known complication of stroke (or other brain conditions).

Dementia may be a drug interaction: A common scenario in aged care is for a patient to show mental decline to dementia. Whereas this can, of course, occur due to various medical conditions, such as a stroke or Alzheimer's disease, it can also occur from a side effect or interaction between multiple drugs that the elderly patient may be taking. There are also various other possible causes of dementia.

Mesenteric adenitis misdiagnosed as appendicitis in children: Because appendicitis is one of the more feared conditions for a child with abdominal pain, it can be over-diagnosed (it can, of course, also fail to be diagnosed with fatal effect). One of the most common misdiagnosed is for children with mesenteric adenitis to be misdiagnosed as appendicitis. Fortunately, thus misdiagnosis is usually less serious than the reverse failure to diagnose appendicitis.

Blood pressure cuffs misdiagnose hypertension in children: One known misdiagnosis issue with hyperension, arises in relation to the simple equipment used to test blood pressure. The "cuff" around the arm to measure blood pressure can simply be too small to accurately test a child's blood pressure. This can lead to an incorrect diagnosis of a child with hypertension. The problem even has a name unofficially: "small cuff syndrome". See misdiagnosis of hypertension.

Mild traumatic brain injury often remains undiagnosed: Although the symptoms of severe brain injury are hard to miss, it is less clear for milder injuries, or even those causing a mild concussion diagnosis. The condition goes by the name of "mild traumatic brain injury" (MTBI). MTBI symptoms can be mild, and can continue for days or weeks after the injury. See the symptoms of MTBI or misdiagnosis of MTBI.

ADHD under-diagnosed in adults: Although the over-diagnoses of ADHD in children is a well-known controversy, the reverse side related to adults. Some adults can remain undiagnosed, and indeed the condition has usually been overlooked throughout childhood. There are as many as 8 million adults with ADHD in the USA (about 1 in 25 adults in the USA). See misdiagnosis of ADHD or symptoms of ADHD.

MTBI misdiagnosed as balance problem: When a person has symptoms such as vertigo or dizziness, a diagnosis of brain injury may go overlooked. This is particularly true of mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI), for which the symptoms are typically mild. The symptoms has also relate to a relatively mild brain injury (e.g. fall), that could have occurred days or even weeks ago. Vestibular dysfunction, causing vertigo-like symptoms, is a common complication of mild brain injury. See causes of dizziness, causes of vertigo, or misdiagnosis of MTBI.

Bipolar disorder misdiagosed as various conditions by primary physicians: Bipolar disorder (manic-depressive disorder) often fails to be diagnosed correctly by primary care physicians. Many patients with bipolar seek help from their physician, rather than a psychiatrist or psychologist. See misdiagnosis of bipolar disorder.

Eating disorders under-diagnosed in men: The typical patient with an eating disorder is female. The result is that men with eating disorders often fail to be diagnosed or have a delayed diagnosis. See misdiagnosis of eating disorders or symptoms of eating disorders.

Depression undiagnosed in teenagers: Serious bouts of depression can be undiagnosed in teenagers. The "normal" moodiness of teenagers can cause severe medical depression to be overlooked. See misdiagnosis of depression or symptoms of depression.

Brain pressure condition often misdiagnosed as dementia: A condition that results from an excessive pressure of CSF within the brain is often misdiagnosed. It may be misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease or dementia (such as Alzheimer's disease). The condition is called "Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus" (NPH) and is caused by having too much CSF, i.e. too much "fluid on the brain". One study suggested that 1 in 20 diagnoses of dementia or Parkinson's disease were actually NPH. See misdiagnosis of Alzheimer's disease or misdiagnosis of Parkinson's disease.

Post-concussive brain injury often misdiagnosed: A study found that soldiers who had suffered a concussive injury in battle often were misdiagnosed on their return. A variety of symptoms can occur in post-concussion syndrome and these were not being correctly attributed to their concussion injury. See introduction to concussion.

Children with migraine often misdiagnosed: A migraine often fails to be correctly diagnosed in pediatric patients. These patients are not the typical migraine sufferers, but migraines can also occur in children. See misdiagnosis of migraine or introduction to migraine.

Undiagnosed anxiety disorders related to depression: Patients with depression (see symptoms of depression) may also have undiagnosed anxiety disorders (see symptoms of anxiety disorders). Failure to diagnose these anxiety disorders may worsen the depression. See misdiagnosis of depression or misdiagnosis of anxiety disorders.

Asperger syndrome: Rare Types

Rare types of medical disorders and diseases in related medical areas:

Medical news summaries about misdiagnosis of Asperger syndrome:

The following medical news items are relevant to misdiagnosis of Asperger syndrome:

General Misdiagnosis Articles

Read these general articles with an overview of misdiagnosis issues.

About misdiagnosis:

When checking for a misdiagnosis of Asperger syndrome or confirming a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, it is useful to consider what other medical conditions might be possible misdiagnoses or other alternative conditions relevant to diagnosis. These alternate diagnoses of Asperger syndrome may already have been considered by your doctor or may need to be considered as possible alternative diagnoses or candidates for misdiagnosis of Asperger syndrome. For a general overview of misdiagnosis issues for all diseases, see Overview of Misdiagnosis.

 

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