Autism 101- Asperger’s Syndrome

Greetings Earthlings! 🙂

In continuation from my previous post, I’d like to introduce you properly to Asperger’s syndrome or AS. More and more frequently are we hearing of the condition, but very rarely is it explained to us. I  myself knew relatively little about the disorder upon diagnosis, and that was with a degree in physiology!

So what exactly is Asperger’s syndrome?

Asperger’s syndrome is a form of high-functioning autism. As with all ASD’s, the normal development of the brain is impaired in AS,  however, the symptoms are considered less severe. For example, the social communication difficulties experienced by those with AS are much milder than other ASD’s. We may struggle to communicate our intentions, to empathize or to make eye contact, but much of this can be learned and improved with time 🙂

Unlike classic autism, individuals with AS show relatively normal intelligence and language skills. AS is in fact often associated with higher IQ’s, and in some cases savant skills (mathematical genius, eidetic memory, musical/artistic genius etc.).

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Stereotype alert!!!- The majority of Hollywood portrayals of autistic individuals depict us as having savant skills. This is a RARE condition affecting between 0.5 and 10% of autists. (So no- I can’t count cards in Vegas with you like ‘Rain Man‘ 😛 ).

Motor development can also be affected in AS. In comparison to my peers, it took me a lot longer to hit some of my finer motor milestones (nearly 3 years to master shoelaces for example). Additionally, people with AS are often quite clumsy- something that I may know a thing or two about…

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It’s gotten to the stage where I fall down the stairs so often that my family rarely come to my rescue (I’ve learned to fall with style sustaining minimal injury)! I’m also quite adept at falling over my own feet…the worst fall of my life came after tripping myself up, and not letting go of the Alsatian I was holding…

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…at least we were still in the driveway! 😛

Unusual use of language is also associated with AS. This doesn’t mean that we create our own language or anything weird, but that we have a tendency towards unusual turns of phrase.

I, for example, am particularly fond of using big words- ruminate, cornucopia and ethereal are particular favorites! In my head I can’t see why you wouldn’t use a fancy word like ephemeral or fleeting instead of temporary! 😉 Although this did get me into trouble once with my supervisor for using the word ‘multitudinous’ in a research paper…

Restrictive and repetitive behaviors (like OCD) are additionally found in cases of AS.

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These can manifest in a number of ways. There is a tendency towards routine in AS for example- we don’t like change and the uncertainty it brings. In a world that doesn’t always make sense, routine offers stability and control.

One of the most striking features of AS is our tendency towards having a specialist interest. These are intense areas of interest in which we accumulate mountains of information about a single molehill! If you stumble upon one of my interests in conversation, advanced warning- you could be there a while! 😛 😉  I’ll write a separate post discussing specialist interests in detail on Friday 🙂

So there you have it- a quick overview of Asperger’s syndrome! 🙂

These are just some of the typical characteristics associated with AS. If I were to fully explore the symptoms today, this post would likely be the length of a book! But I’ll do my best to break everything down for you as I go along 🙂

Aoife 🙂

Abbreviations: ASD- Autism Spectrum Disorder, AS- Asperger’s syndrome, OCD- Obsessive compulsive disorder

 

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