What is Asperger Syndrome?

            Hardly a day goes by without a new article or television special somewhere in the world about Asperger Syndrome (AS).  The symptoms of AS were first described in 1944 in an obscure wartime European medical journal article by Hans Asperger, a Viennese child psychiatrist.  AS was given its name by an English researcher, Dr. Lorna Wing, in the early 1970s when she ran across Dr. Asperger's article and named the syndrome in honor of the first doctor to identify the traits of this condition. When AS was first identified, it was believed that it affected about one person in every 10,000.  But in actuality it now has been shown that at least 1 in 500 can be properly identified with AS.   In fact, the current numbers are showing closer to 1 in 200, or perhaps even less.

             Asperger's Syndrome is considered to be at the higher end of the Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Individuals diagnosed with AS generally have normal and above-normal IQ scores but the primary features of autism remain:  impaired social skills, communication challenges, and difficulties with certain aspects of executive functioning, which involves the skills of planning, multi-tasking, and transferring one skill set on to a different task.

             Autism is called a disability, disorder, syndrome or difference, depending on who is using the term, and what label is considered politically correct at the time. There are greater variations between children and adults diagnosed with AS than there are similarities. The multiple features of AS makes it hard for educators, diagnosing clinicians and experts in the field of ASD's to arrive at commonly agreed-upon criteria in "classifying" persons with AS.   The education system, as well as varying governmental agencies, will not accept only a medical diagnosis of AS.  Each requires that the individuals pass additional tests to be considered for assistance.   For this reason, it is best to really understand how AS manifests itself in the individual you are considering, and then aim your discussions to the goal you desire to achieve. 

            AS has been called an “epidemic” by many because of the substantial increase in AS individuals in the last ten years.  However, in spite of the large increase in diagnosed cases, AS still remains a relatively unknown or “hidden” disorder.   There is no identifiable physical characteristic, no race, no social status, no geographic location, and no education level that will help in the diagnosis of AS.  Since this is basically a different way of thinking, there is no surgery and no medication that will “cure” it (medication may be prescribed for some of the co-existing conditions, but at this time there is nothing that will work on AS alone).   It is a lifelong characteristic.   It affects different people in different ways. 

 But the positive traits of Asperger’s Syndrome should also be considered.   These individuals have been known to be extremely creative, and are responsible for many of the outstanding discoveries of mankind.   Although the actual syndrome was unknown by a vast majority of professionals until just in the last decade or so, by reading over information concerning Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Thomas Thoreau, Ansel Adams, and Thomas Jefferson, it is easy to recognize the AS traits. Temple Grandin has become famous for her designs of humane cattle chutes, and she has willingly shared her autistic experiences with many audiences. These individuals will not be contributing to the “politically correct” agendas of so many, for they focus on the facts and the truth.  With considerable concentration on details, and willingness to pursue one specific topic in spite of peer pressure, these are the individuals who “think outside the box” and are the very ones giving mankind the spark to continue forward. As AS author Jerry Newport says, “Life is NOT a label”, and the opportunities exist for an AS individual as much as for anyone else in the United States.

 Are you looking for assistance for you or your child in school?  For a better job for yourself?  For assistance with interpersonal relationships problems within your family?  For a label and understanding of prior social difficulties?  Whatever your purpose, you will need to do much critical thinking and considerable reading before you are ready to really attain your goal. BRASS can assist you on your discovery of AS.

What is AS
Official Criteria for Asperger Syndrome
Basic Characteristics
Traits by Age
Truth and AS  
Family and AS
Should You Seek a Diagnosis?
 

Entire article 

 

  "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