December 28, 2012

Asperger Syndrome

Individuals with Asperger Syndrome range from people who may be considered a little eccentric to people who have serious difficulties socially, educationally, and professionally because they lack basic understanding of human interactions. People in the latter group often have to learn by rote things that other people consider common sense, such as how to read facial expressions, tones of voice (like sarcasm), and verbal expressions (such as “raining cats and dogs”).

Many people with Asperger’s have brilliant intellects yet are na├»ve and easily taken advantage of by others because they interpret situations at face value and miss social cues. Generally, “Aspies” lack common emotional responses and must learn appropriate social skills to function within society, but they’re typically considered high functioning and may never be diagnosed at all. No obvious language delay comes with Asperger Syndrome; however, language tends to develop in a unique manner. Professionals dispute whether Asperger’s should even be considered a disorder. People affected don’t show the same delays in cognitive development or curiosity about their environment that people with classic autism do in childhood.

One well-known person with Asperger Syndrome is Liane Holliday Willey — a doctor of education, a writer, and a researcher — who realized she had the syndrome only after her daughter received a diagnosis. In her book, Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger’s Syndrome (Jessica Kingsley Publishers), Willey explains how an undiagnosed individual often feels different from others but doesn’t know why. The person doesn’t seek a cure, only acceptance. “No matter what the hardships,” Willey writes, “I do not wish for a cure to Asperger Syndrome. What I wish for is a cure for the common ill that pervades too many lives; the ill that makes people compare themselves to a normal that is measured in terms of perfect and absolute standards, most of which are impossible for anyone to reach.” Co-author Stephen Shore was once considered uneducable, but he has written poignantly about his struggles to understand social protocols that others take for granted. Now considered to have Asperger Syndrome, Shore has written two other books and numerous articles.

You must understand that people with Asperger’s don’t lack feelings; their brains just function in such a way that they have trouble accessing and expressing feelings to others in a traditional manner.


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