What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

Asperger’s Syndrome (also known as Asperger Syndrome – I won’t be dogmatic about whether or not to include the apostrophe!) is a neurobiological disorder that is often described as a “high-functioning” form of Autism. It was first described in 1944 by Austrian paediatrician Hans Asperger, but it was not until 1994 that the condition was officially recognised by the World Health Organisation and added to the DSM IV, and only in the past few years did it become recognised by professionals and parents. The condition was unknown in the English-speaking world until the 1980s, when Lorna Wing, the mother of an autistic child, increased interest in the condition.

Those with AS generally have average to above-average IQ, but their downfall is in social interaction, communication, and abstract thinking. They tend to lack the “subtle cues” necessary to integrate into a social environment, and therefore would be quite happy being on their own most of the time. This would also go some way towards explaining their difficulty in forming relationships, particularly with someone of the opposite gender. Although they would have a reasonably good vocabulary, they usually fall down when it comes to putting sentences together “off-the-cuff”. This is particularly evident when it comes to translating thoughts and ideas into words. It is not so critical in a written text because it is possible to draft a text over and over until one is satisfied with what they are saying. The difficulty arises in oral communication, where there is less time afforded in translating the thoughts and ideas into words. A “normal” person tends to process this translation much quicker than someone with AS.

However, people with AS are obsessive with routines and are preoccupied with particular subjects or interests at different times, and some would exhibit exceptional skills or talents in specific areas, and often, through their naivete, tend to feel “important” or “special” on account of having those skills or talents.

Another point observed is that people with AS tend to find things like criticism, defeat or failure particularly hard to take.

I tried to define AS as best I could, in my own words. There are many other websites out there on the Internet on Asperger’s Syndrome, which define the condition, often in more detail, and which I will not plagiarise.

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