Asperger Syndrome

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What is Asperger syndrome?

Asperger syndrome is a lifelong condition which falls within the autistic spectrum. The main difference however, between classic autism and Asperger syndrome, is that people with AS will usually have had normal language development as a child and will generally be of average or above average intelligence.

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People with Asperger syndrome usually share difficulties in three main areas:

Social communication: difficulty in knowing how to use language appropriately in some social situations. Also, difficulty in moderating their own non-verbal means of communication, as well as interpreting that of the people around them.

Social interaction: maybe wanting to be sociable but having difficulties in making and maintaining friendships and relationships.

Social imagination: difficulty in predicting, understanding or interpreting other people’s thoughts, feelings or actions – therefore finding it hard to predict what will happen next or imagine alternative outcomes to a situation, other than what they anticipate in their own mind.

Other related characteristics sometimes include the development of intense, sometimes obsessive, interests. This can lead to an exceptional knowledge in these favoured subjects. A person with Asperger syndrome might also have a strong preference for structure and keeping things in order. Without prior warning and careful planning, they can find change to their routine or expectations very difficult to manage. 

Covid 19 Update

We are making some service delivery changes, in line with the current government advice and guidance, in order to protect our patients and workforce.

We are no longer able to offer any face to face appointments. However, in efforts to continue offering assessments to those already on our waiting list, we will be exploring alternative assessment processes, using telephone and other digital web based video applications such as Skype, where possible and agreed with patients.  If patients decline telephone or video assessment appointments then they will remain on our waiting list until face to face clinics can be resumed.  

Please note: The OSW Asperger’s Syndrome Assessment Service is only commissioned to provide diagnostic assessments.  We are unable to offer any support, to manage risk or coordinate care for any patients open to our service, including those on our waiting list.  

During these unusual circumstances we apologise in advance for any additional wait times or delays.



We provide an assessment service for adults (aged 16+) who are registered with a GP surgery in Cornwall and are currently not open to secondary care services, such as a Community Mental Health Team (CMHT). For those individuals, an assessment should be sought from their CMHT as part of their ongoing care package, if considered clinically appropriate.

Not everyone with Asperger syndrome wishes to have a formal diagnosis and it is entirely down to the individual if they chose to take up an offer of an assessment. However, there are a number of reasons why a diagnosis can be helpful. For example, some people find a positive diagnosis can be a relief because it allows them to learn more about their condition and understand why they may have experienced certain difficulties in their life. Having a diagnosis can also help other people understand and empathise more easily with some of the differences and difficulties a person with Asperger’s may have.

In addition, a diagnosis can facilitate access to entitled benefits and more appropriately tailored advice and support from services. Finally, having a definite diagnosis can be helpful in leading on to making contact with other people with the same condition. This can help an individual to feel more connected and accepted, and enable them to celebrate the many strengths and talents that come with having Asperger syndrome, with like-minded people.

The overall aim of the assessment is to increase understanding of any differences and difficulties that the person has experienced throughout their lifetime, as well as to highlight areas of personal strength and ability. Within this, we are looking to explore whether a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome may be most appropriate in terms of explaining the experiences that have been described. Whilst it is not always possible, or appropriate, to confirm a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome from this assessment, whatever the outcome, we will try to offer suggestions and recommendations that might be helpful in improving your quality of life, if required.

For more information about our assessment and diagnostic services for Asperger syndrome, please see our leaflet and 'Easy Read Assessment Process' document which can be found in the Additional Resources section below. Alternatively, select the appropriate referral form below.

Please note: Your GP will be made aware of any assessment that you have through our diagnostic service.

Assessment for Asperger Syndrome - How to Refer

If you would like to be referred to our service, you should discuss this possibility with your GP, who can complete our practitioner referral form and send this to us if they feel it is appropriate. It is important that the practitioner referral highlights examples of difficulties and differences you experience, including why an assessment is felt to be necessary. 

Please note: we currently have a waiting time of 20-24 months but are working hard to reduce this. We are solely a diagnostic service for adults with a query of Asperger syndrome. It is not in our remit and we do not have the resources to manage risk or co-ordinate care for people who are awaiting assessment or for those who have been diagnosed. Individuals requiring this or who have more complex mental health needs should seek support and assessment from the relevant secondary care service.

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Services/links you may find useful

Additional Resources