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Asperger Information

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Asperger syndrome is a neurological condition on the autistic spectrum. I was diagnosed with this condition in 2002. I made this site so I could bring together everything I have learnt since then so I could share it with other people. Please note, this is a non-profit personal site run for the benefit of others and is not a charity or an organisation.

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What is Asperger Syndrome?

Asperger Syndrome is a neurological condition on the autistic spectrum.

Neurological means it is to do with how your brain works... you are just born that way. It is not something you can catch or pass on to other people like a virus. Neither is it mental illness... it cannot be induced by trauma or neglect and it cannot be cured with therapy or a change in lifestyle or attitude. Current research suggests it is not even the result of brain damage and is in fact, at least in part, genetic.

It is more common in males than females, but anyone of any race or gender can have asperger syndrome, and it is a lifelong condition, so age makes no difference either. People who call it a childhood 'illness' are very, very, incorrect to do so.

Some people call it a developmental disorder, in a lot of cases though people with the condition compensate for weaknesses in some areas with being over developed in others, so you could say it is a developmental difference rather than a lack of development overall.

A syndrome is a collection of symptoms or characteristics that occur together. People with Asperger syndrome will have some or all of these characteristics in common and will share many similar experiences. All are of average or above intelligence (the minimum IQ required for a diagnosis is 70) and will be verbal, and while most greatly benefit from extra support and understanding as children, as adults the vast majority become either semi or fully independent.

People with Asperger syndrome are people just like everybody else, and all have different personalities and experiences. It can be very disabling being different, and many experience lifestyle difficulties, depression, and health problems. These are not strictly part of the syndrome but more a consequence of living with it, and are not experienced by everybody.


What does Asperger mean?

Asperger syndrome is named after Hans Asperger, the doctor who first recognised and described the symptoms back in the 1940's. It is sometimes just called autism or H.F.A. (High Functioning Autism) and sometimes it is called A.S. for short. The more widely known, rarer, and more severe autistic spectrum condition commonly referred to as autism is sometimes called Kanner syndrome, after the doctor that discovered it also.

What does autistic mean?

The word 'Autism' is derived from the Greek word meaning 'self' and is believed to have been first used in the English language as recently as 1912, by a man called Eugene Bleuler, who was using it to describe the self absorbed or those escaping from reality. In theory you could describe anyone as autistic if they over indulged in daydreams, fantasies or delusions or lacked awareness of the world around them. In practice though the word has taken on a new and extended meaning since it was simultaneously used by both Kanner and Asperger to describe the syndromes they were separately identifying during the 1940's. Kanner's work was the most well publicised until very recently, so to many the word 'autism' is still synonymous with retardation and severe disability, but is in fact legitimately used to describe any condition on the autistic spectrum... which includes people of widely varying levels of ability.

What are Aspies and NT's?

Aspie is a popular informal term for describing people with Asperger syndrome, though there are many others.

Many people prefer to say they are an Aspie rather than say they have Asperger syndrome.

Throughout this site I have decided to mostly use the term 'a person who has Asperger syndrome' simply because it is the only way to avoid confusion. I do not particularly like saying it that way myself. I feel that 'person first' political correctness is misguided and insulting, but I am not trying to be politically correct... I am just trying to use language in a way that everyone will understand.

NT is short for neurotypical. It is a term used to describe people with more common or typical neurology (brains). Many people prefer to use it instead of words like 'normal' because there is no such thing as 'normal' really, just majority and minority.


How common is it?

Until recently I quoted figures produced by the NAS in 1997 that suggested that one in three hundred people had Asperger syndrome and just under 1% were on the autistic spectrum overall. Those figures could be out of date now, as the number of people getting a diagnosis has been increasing and it is more accepted that not everyone who could be diagnosed is. Instead people compiling statistics currently are far more concerned with the more practical goal of identifying numbers of people likely to need medical help or community support so they can plan public services provision for the future.

If you really want statistics though you can find them here on the National Autistic Society web site.

Personally I would not call Asperger syndrome 'rare' as even a conservative estimate would suggest that almost everybody comes into contact with people with Asperger syndrome all the time, even though they may not know it.

Numbers are rising. Some people think this is indicative of an epidemic but I don't believe that at all. Asperger syndrome was hardly known about until 15 years ago, so you would expect numbers of diagnosis to rise for many years as awareness increases. There is no way to measure how many people there were with Asperger syndrome prior to it being recognised and given a name. It may well be that it is far more than expected. When I was a kid there was no name for problems like this. People couldn't even see there was a problem. People think differently these days... they see things they didn't before.

I think that the human species is and always has been diverse in a wide variety of ways, including neurologically, and at different times and places I think that diversity has just been handled differently and has posed more or less of a problem. I think it is a reflection of the society we live in that it has suddenly become such an issue.


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