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