Asperger's Syndrome is named after
Asperger, the Austrian doctor who first recognised and
described the symptoms back in 1944. Asperger's Syndrome (or Disorder)
is a neurological condition on the autistic spectrum. However, unlike
most neurological conditions there are no medical treatments for Asperger's
Disorder. The only treatments with documented effectiveness for
addressing various needs of people with Asperger's are psychological and most
of those are principally behavioral and cognitive-behavioral.
In people with Asperger's
Syndrome, deficits in social interaction and unusual responses to the
environment, similar to those in autism, are observed. Unlike in autism,
however, cognitive and communicative development are within the normal or
near-normal range in the first years of life, and verbal skills are usually an
area of relative strength. Idiosyncratic interests are common and may take the
form of an unusual and/or highly circumscribed interest (e.g., in train
schedules, snakes, the weather, deep-fry cookers, or telegraph pole
insulators). There is some suggestion of an increased incidence of this
condition in family members.
AS is not something that one
can catch or that can be spread like a virus. People with AS are just
born that way. Despite Asperger's being listed in the APA's
Diagnostic manual it is not a mental illness, it cannot be caused by
trauma or neglect and it cannot be cured with therapy or a change in lifestyle
or attitude. Current research suggests it is not even the result of brain
damage and is in fact, at least in part, genetic.
It is more common in males than
females, but anyone of any race or gender can have Asperger's Syndrome, and it
is a life-long condition, however how it manifests does appear to change for
many people as they grow, develop, and age. It is not a "childhood"
illness even though it is called a developmental disorder.
A syndrome is a collection of
symptoms or characteristics that occur together. People with Asperger's
Syndrome will have some or all of these characteristics in common and will
share many similar experiences. All are of average or above intelligence (the
minimum IQ required for a diagnosis is 70) and will be verbal, and while most
greatly benefit from extra support and understanding as children, as adults
the vast majority become either semi or fully independent.
People with Asperger's Syndrome
are people with different personalities and experiences, just like anyone
else. They experience the world differently and therefore their own
interactions, style, expectations, and "personality" can be
different as a result. It can be very disabling being different, and
many experience lifestyle difficulties, anger, anxiety, depression, and health
problems. These are not strictly part of the syndrome but more a consequence
of living with it, and are not experienced by everybody.
Aspie is a popular informal
term for describing people with Asperger's Syndrome, though there are
many others. Many people with AS prefer to say they are an Aspie rather
than say they have Asperger's Syndrome.
Many people want to know how
they can tell if they or someone else is a person with Asperger's. There
is no specific test for Aspergers. There is no medical test, no genetic
test, no definitive psychological test for Aspergers. Aspergers is
defined and diagnosed behaviorally. There are quizzes
and questionnaires where people with Asperger syndrome will on average score
higher or lower than the rest of the population, but in themselves they are
not adequate for a diagnosis by
themselves. That means that someone
who is trained in Autism Spectrum Disorders generally and who has specific
experience with Aspergers must get to know a person and through their
observations and interviews come to make the diagnosis based on those