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 difficulties.

  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 individual. 

 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 psychological problems.   

 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
Basic Characteristics
Traits by Age
Truth and AS  
Family and AS
Should You Seek a Diagnosis?

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  "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

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"We each have our own way of living in the world, together we are like a symphony.
Some are the melody, some are the rhythm, some are the harmony
It all blends together, we are like a symphony, and each part is crucial.
We all contribute to the song of life."
...Sondra Williams

We might not always agree; but TOGETHER we will make a difference.

 

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Updated 04/02/2014