Do I Have Asperger Syndrome?
Asperger syndrome (AS) is a pervasive developmental disorder at the
highest end of the autism spectrum. People with AS develop language
normally, but often have difficulty with social interactions, fine and
gross motor coordination, and eye contact. They may be extremely
passionate about just one or two topics, with little patience for small
talk. They also may struggle to handle normal daily activities, such as
organizing time, managing conflict, or even facing the sensory overload
presented by malls and grocery stores.
Adults with AS may appear painfully shy, or they may be extremely
outgoing - sometimes to the point of being "in your face." That's
because people with AS often misinterpret social interaction. Questions
they may ask themselves: How far away do I stand from another person?
How long can I talk about my favorite subject? What's the right answer
to "how are you?"
If these are the types of questions that puzzle you on a regular basis,
you may already have considered the possibility that you have AS. And
"if you think you have Asperger syndrome, you probably do," says
Michael John Carley, Executive Director of Global and Regional Partnership for Asperger Syndrome (GRASP).
I Think I DO Have Asperger Syndrome - What Do I Do Now?
AS is in no way life threatening, and while there are therapies
available to aleviate symptoms and build new skills, there is no
treatment which will cure it. That means you are under no obligation to
seek a professional diagnosis, or to act on a diagnosis once you have
it. There are, however, good reasons to consider seeking a diagnosis, particularly if you feel that Asperger syndrome may be causing problems or distress.
If you do decide to seek a diagnosis of Asperger syndrome,
Carley recommends seeking out individual therapists, neurologists and
autism centers that are familiar with tests for AS. The most critical
point is that you choose a therapist, neurologist or center with
significant experience in diagnosing adults with AS. Since it is
relatively new to the DSM-IV (diagnostic manual), the diagnosis may be
something many practicing doctors will not have been trained in or have
expertise in AS.
Appropriate diagnosis will involve a variety of tests that focus on
intelligence, "adaptive" social and communication skills, and personal
developmental history. An experienced professional can help distinguish
between true AS and other disorders which have some of the same or
similar symptoms (social phobias, anxiety, etc.).
Author Lisa Jo Rudy, About.com Guide to Autism
Lisa Jo Rudy is the mother of Tommy, age 12, diagnosed with PDD-NOS --
an autism spectrum disorder. She is also a professional writer,
researcher and consultant. Lisa and her videographer/photographer
husband, Peter, live in Massachusetts. Their son, Tom, is home schooled
and their daughter, Sara, attends public school. Lisa is working on a
new book, entitled, "Out-of-School Learning and Your Child with
Autism," due to be published by Jessica Kingsley Press in March, 2010.
She is available as a speaker for conferences and events, and may be
contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for specific details.