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Adults Can Have Asperger's Syndrome, Too

By HERWriter
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There are always children, adolescents and adults who stand out from the crowd. This doesn’t mean something is mentally wrong with them, but for some people, a neurological disorder may actually be the case.

When people hear the term Asperger’s syndrome, they also often only think of children and even adolescents, but this developmental disorder still affects adults. Some people might not even realize they have Asperger’s until they are adults, since certain people can function in society with this disorder.

The disorder is thought to be genetic and neurobiological in some way, though it’s not for certain. Some general symptoms of Asperger’s disorder are "poor social skills and narrow interests,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, a part of the National Institute of Health.

Asperger’s syndrome is considered a pervasive developmental disorder and an autism spectrum disorder, but it is not characterized by “severe delays in language or other cognitive skills characteristic of people with autism,” an abnormal psychology textbook stated.

Non-verbal communication, social interaction, speech and language abnormalities are common, according to NIND. The unusual speech and language aspects are not because of language delay necessarily, but people with Asperger’s generally have a formal vocabulary in a specific area of interest.

They can also appear to have OCD tendencies, since they engage in “repetitive routines or rituals,” according to NIND. Other symptoms are delays in motor skills and awkward coordination, as well as “emotionally inappropriate behavior.”

An about.com article states that adults with Asperger’s can be “painfully shy or they can be extremely outgoing.” This can happen because people with Asperger’s syndrome, “often misinterpret social interaction.”

The fact that some can form relationships may lead to a criticism of the diagnostic criteria, according to one article from USA Today. In the article, research scientist Katherine Tsatsanis of the Yale Developmental Disabilities Clinic said the following: "Almost by definition, an Asperger's person would not form an intimate relationship, get married and have children. They don't form connections. The desire, the drive and the social knowledge is lacking."

Others argue that those who have formed relationships and are parents with Asperger’s syndrome have just learned how to cope with their disorder. More research are fine-tuning of diagnostic criteria may answer some of these questions.
However, even for those who do have relationships and children, the disorder can affect loved ones as well. There is even a Web site devoted to “families of adults affected by Asperger’s syndrome." Faaas.org.

This Web site states that “feelings of rejection and loneliness play a major role in the lives of the family members of an individual with Asperger’s syndrome. Their feelings are not validated, acknowledged, or even recognized by the afflicted person.”

There is ongoing research on Asperger’s syndrome, although it seems there is more of a focus on autism, since it is arguably more severe. A lot of research on both disorders can be found at Aarr.stanford.edu, which is the Web site for Autism and Asperger Research Reports at Stanford University.

Some research at Stanford suggests that Asperger’s is generally diagnosed at a later date in childhood, considering “social behavior and language abnormalities found in children with autism do not occur in AS.” Perhaps this is why there is more of a focus on autism, and Asperger’s isn’t considered as severe.

Nevertheless, Asperger’s disorder should be taken seriously, and if you think you or a loved one may have this disorder, contact a mental health professional.

Abnormal Psychology: An Integrative Approach by David Barlow and Mark Durand

Add a Comment6 Comments

My 24 year old son was recently diagnosed with schizoid personality disorder but I'm starting to think it's Asperger's. Now what?

December 4, 2011 - 7:14pm
EmpowHER Guest

Many people compare autism and Aspergers symptoms, and it has been found that children suffering from Asperger's syndrome are less affected than those with Autism. As the child advances to teenage years and then to adulthood, Asperger's syndrome shows varied symptoms.

March 17, 2011 - 12:49am
(reply to Anonymous)

That is interesting. I have a daughter with Asperger's and in some ways it is more difficult than the first daughter with Autism. Yes the symptoms are varied but easier? NO.

April 10, 2011 - 12:39pm
EmpowHER Guest

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Finding the right college program for students with autism spectrum disorders, Asperger’s, nonverbal learning disorder, ADD/ADHD and other learning disabilities is vital for a college student’s transition into independent adulthood. The right program should provide support for each student’s unique needs and goals.

With the help of New Directions, young adults with learning disabilities are experiencing independence for the first time in their lives. Some of our clients pursue collegiate endeavors and some pursue vocational training/tracks. New Directions helps students attend universities, community colleges, and technical and vocational schools.

For more information, go to http://www.newdirectionsfya.com/ or call 954-571-5102 to contact Dr. Drew Rubin, Ph.D.

October 4, 2010 - 7:34am

Asperger syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder, and people with it therefore show significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported. Asperger syndrome is named for the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger who, in 1944, described children in his practice who lacked nonverbal communication skills, demonstrated limited empathy with their peers, and were physically clumsy. Fifty years later, it was standardized as a diagnosis, but many questions remain about aspects of the disorder.
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April 10, 2010 - 3:00am
EmpowHER Guest

Many people believe children with Autism do not form attachments. This is certainly a myth. They do form attachments to people. It is different but as the parent of a child with Autism and a child with Aspergers I have witnessed the attachments.
Just my 2 cents,
Mylinda Elliott

March 27, 2010 - 9:15pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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