Family and AS
More informed diagnostic practices leading to an Asperger
Syndrome diagnosis in children and adults often leads to individuals
looking around and discovering other members of the family "most likely"
somewhere on the autistic spectrum. With AS, there is a strong genetic
component with a greater than even likelihood that other members of the
family may be autistic. For this reason, and with our greater
understanding of the "family connection”, diagnosis of adult members of
the family, siblings, cousins, and grandparents often follows the AS
diagnosis of children.
The process may or may not be equally difficult with
mature adults. Many professionally or self-diagnosed AS adults
experience relief at finding a "label that fits". The label is more
than just a tag. It provides the key to understanding past experiences
as well as a means to examine current relationships and roles. It may
take an adult a longer time to "remake" his or her understanding of
their past as well as their present, primarily because their lives are
more complicated and “set” than the lives of younger persons.
Recent research has distinguished at least two
phenotypes of AS in adults: an active, often aggressive and outspoken
extroverted character characterizes the first, while the second is
passive, quiet or quiet-spoken, and introverted. It is possible to have
both types of individuals within the same family. One may be directly
responsible for the other.
Of course the problems of interpersonal relationships
between two AS member of the family, and AS/NS (non-spectrum) members
of the family can be considerable. There are many web sites that have
started to try to help these family members understand and solve their
To researchers, women -- diagnosed with AS much less
frequently than men, remain more of a mystery than men (currently there
are 4 times more males identified than females. This difference is
partially due to the difference in the way AS manifests itself in
individuals. Presently most of the identification tests for AS are
aimed at males). It has been noted the women are more social than men,
so girls are more accepting and nurturing to female aspies than boys are
to male aspies. However, there is a developing body of research that
identifies different behavioral and cognitive properties in AS girls and
women from those of boys and men. Although the AS individual may have a
special interest in any subject, it has been noted that males tend to be
primarily interested subjects such as sciences, mathematics, space and
machines (including cars, trucks, trains, planes, and rockets) whereas
females tend to be more interested in subjects such as languages,
environment, people, plants and animals. In addition, there is ongoing
research to tell the differences in AS depending upon the age of the
It must be remembered that autism is a spectrum, with
some individuals exhibiting more traits than others. It is also
possible to look at the surrounding family and see the lightest end of
ASD. These individuals may be labeled as the “autism phenotype.”
These individuals exhibit some of the traits, but not enough to actually
obtain a diagnosis. As parents and educators and professionals look for
the magical “line in the sand” that will identify the individual with
ASD, it becomes obvious that the person who is “just barely on the
spectrum” is the one who can most easily be forgotten, or be pressured
into trying to be something they are not. When forced to be “normal”,
the result is depression, anger, moodiness, rage, and other
At this time, "the jury is out" as to the most
appropriate way to describe persons with Asperger Syndrome as a group.
There are several questionnaires that have been developed trying to
identify AS. Tony Attwood’s Australian Scale is probably the best known
at the present time. There are individuals attempting to create
questionnaires that will be better suited for adults and females.
Despite many years of research, there remains no single diagnostic tool
for Asperger Syndrome that is universally accepted by physicians and
mental health professionals.
The best way of treating AS individuals was the way
everyone was treated about 100 years ago—strictly as individuals. By
encouraging the strengths and teaching individuals how to react in
social situations, each person, whether or not he/she is on the ASD
spectrum, can achieve their best. The self-esteem must be intact for the
individual to become an active, participating member of the community.
Too often today's society manages to squash the self-esteem of the AS
individual, regardless of age. As a direct result of the rules and
regulations of the education system, it has become frequently common for
parents to be home schooling their AS children.
What is AS
Official Criteria for Asperger Syndrome
Traits by Age
Truth and AS
Family and AS
Should You Seek a Diagnosis?
"I know of nobody who is purely Autistic or purely neurotypical. Even
God had some Autistic moments, which is why the planets all spin."
~ Jerry Newport