I was pretty sure that they are two different diagnoses but now they are proposing Aspergers to be reclassified into Autism Spectrum disorder as "high functioning austism". There is a lot of politics behind it, that's why. However they are both in the "pervasive development disorders" category.
The specific diagnosis terms are complicated and confusing. While aspergers is and has been on the autistic spectrum for many years you can indeed recieve it as a diagnosis of it's own. High functioning autism is still different from aspergers.
High functioning autistic individuals would not be able to get to their teenage years without detection as in many cases of aspergers. The reason being is that while high functioning autistic individuals are able to talk, their comprehension is rather a lot less than that of an individual with aspergers (this does not mean they are not intelligent btw), they would also display a lot more classically autistic traits such as stimming. To put it simply high functioning autism as i understand it is an individual with classic autistic traits who is more able to communicate.
In general i disagree with a label of low functioning autism as this suggests low intelligence.
Also confusing is that ASD does come under pervasive developmental disorders (PDD'S) yet there is another diagnosis on the autistic spectrum named PDD-NOS often shortened to just PDD. It gets yet more confusing as terms tend to vary country to country and region to region especially since new terms keep being introduced.
Gosh i have rushed this post so i may need to come back and edit it, for now though i must dash.
"We knew he was someone who had a tragic flaw, that's where his greatness came from"
An aspergers diagnosis is kind of like an mbti type. At first it seems great because it explains the problems you have always had. Maybe you will get relief and guidance from it.
But then you find people treat you differently and choose to see you as 'special' in the same way a retarded person is seen as 'special'. But if no one knows you've been diagnosed they consider you an equal, but weird, strange, or odd. So someone is sometimes better not knowing or considering it.
And there's the problem with the fact that normal people have their own struggles that make life just as difficult, so giving greater consideration to another person with AS that will learn to function just as well over normal people seems counter-productive to their own ends.
Social circles can be such a silly little game, where the one's that have the most forethought with the least amount of sense wins. Anyone can do this and it's hilarious when played well.