Adults with Asperger's Syndrome (AS) were once children with Asperger's Syndrome. This seems a simple straightforward observation. But it is neither simple nor straightforward.
This disorder first surfaced about 70 yrs ago. Hans Asperger, a Viennese pediatrician, studied patients who were intelligent and verbal, but socially stilted with poor communication skills. During WWII his research was lost and has only come to light again in the 1980's.
Since the research is so new, it stands to reason that for most of their lives, adults with AS didn't know they had it. And it stands to reason that the problems that come with Asperger's have dogged them all their lives, with no explanation other than the one hurled by kids at school — "You're weird." All their lives they've wondered how people successfully relate to others. Because the Aspie can't.
They embrace an all-engrossing world of a few passions. These passions are all they think about, or talk about. They can't tell if they've talked too long for a listener's comfort. The Aspie can't read the signs. They didn't know there were any signs.
Spouses may feel unloved and ignored. Their children may battle with depression, having never felt known as an individual, or loved in a discernible way by their AS parent.
Changes in habits and schedules and daily life are upsetting to the Aspie, and may prompt scenes or withdrawal. Lights may be too bright and blinding, and sounds may be too loud and penetrating. Their skin is often hypersensitive to whatever it touches. They avoid eye contact with others. Tight control over their routines creates a sense of order, keeping at arm's length a world that threatens to move in too closely.
Finally, often after years of withdrawal, the adult with Asperger's Syndrome now hears that there are reasons, other than the old school-yard taunt — "You're weird." Reasons that can be understood, and that help remove the stigma of disapproval. It's possible to learn how to deal with some issues that raise like sores for many with AS. The adult with Asperger's Syndrome can learn how to have healthy relationships.