Social phobia, also known as social anxiety disorder, can be difficult to differentiate from Asperger syndrome. Social phobia is an anxiety disorder, whereas Asperger syndrome is a high-functioning subtype of autism, a pervasive developmental disorder. Social phobia is characterized by fear of social scrutiny. People with social phobia avoid social situations and crowds due to the fear of embarrassing themselves. If you have social phobia, you are self-conscious about how you may appear to others and that you may embarrass yourself.
On the other hand, Asperger syndrome is characterized by problems with non-verbal communication. People with Asperger syndrome are not able to pick up on non-verbal social cues, and therefore avoid social situations due to the lack of social non-verbal communication skills. If you have Asperger syndrome, you are not able to pick up the social cues from other people, like seeing if someone is interested in you or dislikes you, just based on their posture, stance, and facial expressions. So social interactions are significantly hindered if you have Asperger syndrome. If you have Asperger syndrome, you do not avoid social situations for fear of social scrutiny or embarrassment…you avoid social situations as you are not good at communicating. Asperger syndrome is also associated with intense preoccupations and interests, so that the person with Asperger syndrome may find an intense interest in objects, like vacuum cleaners, trains, cars, etc. They also tend to be physically clumsy. Their speech is intact, although their speech may be monotonous and has restricted prosody. When they talk with others, it is more like a monologue rather than a dialogue, and they can be quite verbose. People with Asperger syndrome lack empathy for others, as they are not able to place themselves from the other person’s perspective, and therefore seem inconsiderate.
So to summarize, people with social phobia have social problems due to fear of embarrassment, whereas people with Asperger syndrome have social problems due to not being able to read nonverbal social cues.