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WHAT ASPERGER'S SYNDROME IS?

"The Triad of impairments should be replaced with a sextet of impairments. I would retain the original two issues, to describe Autism and AS, which are communication and social interaction. The preposterous "lack of imagination" claim should be removed altogether. Further aspects which should be added to the diagnosis critera are problems with Information Processing and being hyper or hypo sensitive to touch, sound and taste, anxiety in new environments, problems with fine and gross motor skills, and special interests"


What are the differences between people with AS and NT's? Apart from brain structure, with the Amygdala and Hippocampus and frontal lesions in the frontal lobe of the brain, a major difference is that those with AS focus on details in life, such as weather records, birthdays, churches, trains, airplanes and other items, whereas NT's focus on the "Bigger picture", so to speak.

There are different levels of the Autistic Spectrum. You can't argue that life will be harder for someone with severe Kanner's Autism than for someone with Asperger's Syndrome, because at least those with AS can express themselves a great deal better verbally. Some people have patronisingly said to me that I have mild Asperger's Syndrome. I almost exploded with fury when this was said. I didn't - just. There can be no "Mild Autism". There can be no "Mild Asperger's Syndrome". You can't be slightly Schizophrenic, and you can't be a bit pregnant or a bit Anorexic. You either have a condition or you do not. Believe me, with the problems and struggles I have experienced in my life, my Asperger's has seemed, and still does seem, anything but "Mild".

Everyone with AS experiences difficulties in communication, social interaction and interpreting what NT's say to them at times, along with following verbal instructions, being hyper or hyposensitive to touch, sound and taste, anxiety in new environments. When often people with AS don't marry or have relationships, or can't hold down a job, or find it hard to make friends, there is nothing "mild" about that!

High Functioning Autism can be described as Autistics who have language that is quite fluent but have had delays when younger and who have more pronounced Autistic behaviour than people with AS. LFA can be Autistics who are more severely affected, with having no speech and other matters. The terms I prefer to use are Kanner's Autism and Asperger's Autism.

Whilst many people with Autism have profound language difficulties or delays, people with Asperger's Syndrome often have fluent speech and rapid mastery of spoken language. They have been called little professors or have been asked if they have swallowed a dictionary when young. The voice of someone with the condition can carry or be unusually loud, but my voice also is relatively ordinary in rhythm. It is not monotone, although again, I often talk fast and when I do talk fast, my voice goes into a higher pitch.

Individuals with the condition usually know they are different but can't understand why, unless or until they get diagnosed, or if their condition is pointed out to them, or if they discover they have it by accident.

Someone with the condition often will repeat themselves if they like talking about a subject, or find it interesting, or can plough on about such matters in depth, not realising or understanding that the person they are talking to is bored with the one-sided conversation. This is because they can't read body language and don't have the ability to do what non-Autistics take for granted.

The fact that someone can talk about subjects which I have mentioned in detail may lead others to think that there is no problem at all and that people with Asperger's Syndrome do not need any help or support. Indeed, it may seem absurd and ridiculous to some people that someone could tell you about in minute detail about the Solar System or provide you with the details of the inner workings of a PC or car engine or explicit information about the American Civil War but not understand the basic rules that govern social interaction or be able to hold a structured conversation, or understand something that seems so simple - social interaction, proverbs, metaphors, sayings and clichés, but that is how the brains of people with Asperger's Syndrome are wired, for good or for ill. AS is a social learning disability, not a General Learning Disability.


With relationships, males with the condition are attracted to females but don't have the social skills or signals to talk to them, or often go about it the wrong way, making "wrong" or "inappropriate" comments, which in extreme circumstances could see them getting arrested for sexual harrassment or at least cautioned, or even into punch-ups. They may make not very subtle remarks, such as commenting that the woman they are talking to has a big bum or big boobs.

Asperger's Syndrome causes those with the condition to be hypersensitive or hyposensitive to certain noises, sounds and touch. A whistle being blown, loudly, and without warning, often will upset them. Individuals with AS usually, as I can't, wear certain fabrics of clothing, such as wool or polyester. Those with AS often don't like eye contact.


AS usually impairs a person's physical movement but in obvious or less subtle ways. They can walk and move about but often have problems in throwing over arm at ball games, or dancing, or when young tying their shoe laces. People with AS are also not skilled at activities requiring spatial tasks.

Those with the condition similarly have problems with doing several things at once. They think mono-tropic, as opposed to NT's, who think multi-tropic. For example, those with AS may be able to have a conversation with someone but not do a task at the same time. The NT brain is multi-channelled, and has a multiple sensory input system. The Autistic or AS brain doesn't.

Someone with AS will focus on something intensely but if they are, say, working in an office and someone comes in and says, "Hiya Baz, did you pull at the weekend. Did you get drunk?". They may say "No I didn't" but their concentration span is thus broken and they would find it hard to get back into what they were doing at the same rate.

One's intelligence level is unaffected in Asperger's Syndrome. Although intelligence is a difficult and subjective issue, and certainly almost impossible to measure or define, as there are several forms of intelligence, such as academic, verbal, written, mathematical, spatial, musical and others, if one bases intelligence on IQ, then those with AS usually fall in the "Average" to "Above Average" level of intelligence.

However, it is always hard to say what level of intelligence people with Autism and AS possess, because they often extraordinary high areas or pockets of abilities in some areas, and very low amounts in others. It is like a spiky profile. Up and down. Exceptionally gifted at some things and dreadful at others. General Learning Disabilities are more commonly found among Kanner Autistic people, though people with Asperger's Syndrome often suffer from Specific Learning Disabilities, such as Dyslexia and Dyscalculia. As well, other disabilities can accompany AS, such as ADHD.

Finally, I would replace the triad of impairments with a quintet of impairments and remove forever, the now infamous "People with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome have no imagination or impairments in imagination" statement. I would retain the original two issues, to describe Autism and AS, which are communication and social interaction. That can't be argued against, but further aspects of AS which should be included are Information Processing and being hyper or hypo sensitive to touch, sound and taste, Anxiety in new environments and special interests. Having AS makes one more sensitive to stimuli such as lights, noises, and background information.


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