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What is Aspergers Syndrome?

AS is a complex brain disorder and is seen as part of the Autistic Spectrum. Generally those affected by the condition have an IQ within the normal range but may have extremely poor social and communication skills. Common characteristics can be a lack of empathy, little ability to form relationships, one-sided conversations and an intense absorption with a special interest. Sometimes movements can be clumsy. However, with the proper support people with AS can lead full and productive lives.

In Ireland it is estimated that several thousand people have the syndrome, with about nine times as many men affected as women. The lack of services in this country places an enormous burden on parents. For many, obtaining a diagnosis is often a major undertaking and can take up to several years. Even with a diagnosis parents soon realise that few primary and secondary schools have the staff or resources to deal with the special needs of children with AS. Bullying can be a huge problem for these vulnerable children and adults.

There are a lot of symptoms connected with the condition and nobody will ever have all of the symptoms and no two people will ever have the same combination of symptoms. The majority of people with Asperger Syndrome will experience difficulties in developing their social, communication and emotional skills.

Asperger Syndrome or AS for short is part of the autistic spectrum and shares some of the same characteristics as autism.  Many people with Asperger Syndrome experience impairments in the following areas: –

  • Social Interaction
    Individuals can have problems interacting socially; they may seem quiet
    or be called loners. Some people with AS can appear socially
    inappropriate or naive.
  • Communication
    Individuals can have problems with over elaborate or double meaning
    language and may interpret some things literally. Some people with
    Asperger Syndrome may need visual written back-ups and prompts.
  • Imagination
    Individuals may be very rigid thinkers and relay a lot on timetables
    and routines. Some people with Asperger Syndrome will have problems
    grasping concepts that aren’t very black and white. Asperger Syndrome
    was only confirmed as a distinct Autistic Spectrum Disorder in the
    early 1990’s. Some professionals and members of the public have a
    limited understanding of Asperger Syndrome.

    Having AS does not mean that a person is any less intelligent that the
    next person. In fact, many studies have shown that people with AS often
    have above average intelligence in specific areas and may excel in
    mathematics or music, for example.

What are people with AS like?

By definition, AS is a social learning disability that usually affects the way people relate to others, how they communicate, how they cope with stress and how they interpret social situations. People with AS can be single-minded, may have trouble making friends and may have intense special interests in one area. Quite often people with AS are subjected to teasing or bullying at school or work because of these factors.

What types of people have AS?

All kinds of people have AS. Generally it is more common in men, but there are women with AS also. People of all races and nationalities can have AS. There are even some famous people throughout history such as Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton who are reported to have had AS characteristics.

Is there are cure for AS?

AS is something people are born with and it is not possible to cure. However, there is certainly help and support available to people who have AS. There are teachers, therapists and other professionals who know about AS and can offer advice and support. There are also organisations like ASPIRE and Autism Ireland that provide information and support. Information is also freely available on the internet and there is a variety of websites dedicated to AS. Some sources are more reputable than others – you can find a list for some of the more popular in the Resources section at the end of this booklet.
Keep in mind that AS is NOT a disease or health problem. It is a life long condition. People with AS can live successful lives, attend mainstream schools and have successful careers.

Can people with AS live normal lives?

People with AS can often find fulltime employment or go on to 3rd level education and some find a life partner or get married Many people with AS choose to work fulltime others prefer to work part-time and pursue their hobbies within their spare time. Others choose to study full-time or part-time. Some people with AS marry while others remain single.

What skills and qualities does someone with AS have?

  • Dependable – people with AS desire routine and so are punctual, reliable and dependable
  • Commitment – they are loyal and hardworking
  • Specialist knowledge – many people with AS have a high knowledge in specialist areas. This interest can be especially beneficial for an employer
  • Recall – people with AS are often good with facts and figures and have a good memory for detail
  • Concentration – people with AS can have good concentration for tasks that others find boring or repetitive
  • Logical thinkers – people with AS can be very skilled at logical problem solving