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Medical Asperger's Syndrome

  1. Jul 14, 2005 #1
    What Is Asperger Syndrome?
    By Barbara L. Kirby

    "Asperger Syndrome or (Asperger's Disorder) is a neurobiological disorder named for a Viennese physician, Hans Asperger, who in 1944 published a paper which described a pattern of behaviors in several young boys who had normal intelligence and language development, but who also exhibited autistic-like behaviors and marked deficiencies in social and communication skills..."

    "...Individuals with AS can exhibit a variety of characteristics and the disorder can range from mild to severe. Persons with AS show marked deficiencies in social skills, have difficulties with transitions or changes and prefer sameness. They often have obsessive routines and may be preoccupied with a particular subject of interest. They have a great deal of difficulty reading nonverbal cues (body language) and very often the individual with AS has difficulty determining proper body space. Often overly sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells, and sights, the person with AS may prefer soft clothing, certain foods, and be bothered by sounds or lights no one else seems to hear or see...."

    "Because of their high degree of functionality and their naiveté, those with AS are often viewed as eccentric or odd and can easily become victims of teasing and bullying. While language development seems, on the surface, normal, individuals with AS often have deficits in pragmatics and prosody. Vocabularies may be extraordinarily rich and some children sound like "little professors." However, persons with AS can be extremely literal and have difficulty using language in a social context..."

    -by Lois Freisleben-Cook:
    "...A few people with Asperger's syndrome are very successful and until recently were not diagnosed with anything but were seen as brilliant, eccentric, absent minded, socially inept, and a little awkward physically."

    "Although the criteria state no significant delay in the development of language milestones, what you might see is a "different" way of using language. A child may have a wonderful vocabulary and even demonstrate hyperlexia but not truly understand the nuances of language and have difficulty with language pragmatics. Social pragmatics also tend be weak, leading the person to appear to be walking to the beat of a "different drum". Motor dyspraxia can be reflected in a tendency to be clumsy."

    "In social interaction, many people with Asperger's syndrome demonstrate gaze avoidance and may actually turn away at the same moment as greeting another..."

    Asperger Syndrome
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  3. Jul 17, 2005 #2


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    this will not garner any comments apparently because we all think we have it and would rather not discuss it. i floated this topic in my mathd epartm,ent as a joke and did not get a single comment of any kind. i guess there are some things, like being socially clueless, that math/science types are sensitive about.
  4. Jul 17, 2005 #3
    Well, it may not garner any comments but I guarantee you will enjoy reading "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night" if you haven't yet.

    Besides, social skills are over-rated. And I seriously doubt that nerdism (of which I am a proud card carrying member; I can quote HHGttG with the best of 'em) is really physiologically the same as Asperger's.
  5. Jul 17, 2005 #4


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    Yes, definintely! If not medically accurate (anyone?), it's a fantastic way of telling a story, and such a fascinating condition too.
  6. Jul 17, 2005 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    No kidding, I find the most people too boring to make it worth the effort. This of course is one reason why I landed here at PF. :approve:
  7. Jul 17, 2005 #6
    What is this? I haven't heard of it.
  8. Jul 17, 2005 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    Zooby, I was curious why you posted this in GD instead of Biology or Social Sciences?
  9. Jul 17, 2005 #8
    Indeed, the first principle of social skills seems to be the unwritten rule: Never, under any circumstances, say anything interesting!
  10. Jul 17, 2005 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    You can imagine how well my interests go over in a crowd - physics, engineering, and serious discussion of fringe topics. :rolleyes: Just shoot me now.
  11. Jul 17, 2005 #10
    Yes, I debated about that, and am aware it would probably be more appropriate in Social Sciences. In the end I posted it here just because I feel more people check out GD than the smaller, dedicated forums. It's fine if you want to move it, though.
  12. Jul 17, 2005 #11
    disagree here. last school year i did the courses on verbal & nonverbal communication & have been teaching myself about relationships also since then. i've learned a ton of stuff that i didn't know before. it has helped me at work also.

    also one doesn't have to have all the symptoms of asperger's to have it, so nerdism in one form or another could be asperger's.
  13. Jul 17, 2005 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    You were wanting to get personal feedback and not so much technical responses? I was just curious.
  14. Jul 17, 2005 #13
    Asperger's warrants an FYI in any case because the book I read that prompted this thread pointed out that, since it's only a very recent addition to the literature, there are huge numbers of mental health professionals who are pretty much ignorant about it, having recieved their training prior to the dissemination of info about AS. Likewise, it closely mimics other diagnoses:

    "Say What?
    When considering the dozens of descriptions various specialists have been know to apply to persons with AS, we could not help but recall the parable about the blind men and the elephant, in which each man identified the elephant as a different animal depending on which part of it he felt. Often specialists see and identify only the facet of AS that pertains to their area of expertise. Having been identified as having any of these does not exclude your child from having AS.

    One Doctor's Asperger Syndrome
    is another doctor's PDD-NOS
    is yet another doctor's high-functioning autism is a speech pathologists's semantic-pragmatic disorder is a education consultant's nonverbal learning disability is a psychologist's personality disorder"

    -The Oasis Guide to Asperger Syndrome

    The champion of Asperger's is probably Dr. Tony Atwood, who has gone farther than anyone else in trying to disseminate info about it, and more importantly to disseminate coping strategies for people with AS.
  15. Jul 17, 2005 #14
    I had no idea what the response might be, but was thinking it might possibly lead to "Did Einstein have Asperger's?" since people have thrown that question out in the past without seeming to have researched Asperger's.
  16. Jul 17, 2005 #15
    It's a good read, follows a boy in Britain who has Asperger's, and he witnesses his neighbor's dog murdered. Since he had an easier relationship with the dog than he had with most people, he was really affected by the dog's death. So he sets out to find out what happened.

    Told through his perspective, lots of mathematical puzzles sprinkled throughout (like when he got lost and used a logical methodolgy to find the train station instead of asking a stranger), etc.

    Most (well, some anyway) technically minded people relate to the main character at a basic level.



    Chapter excerpt:


    Last edited: Jul 17, 2005
  17. Jul 18, 2005 #16
    Thanks, Pattylou. I think I'm going to read it.
  18. Jul 18, 2005 #17
    All of that stuff sounds to me like the people have low energy. They are not healthy. Some proper exercise and exposure to the right people would fill them up. Looking away from someone is common when a low energy person meets a high energy person. It is self protection from possession.

    Does it say anything about sexual preferences or activities of people with Asperger's?

    I noticed the comment "No one likes to talk about Asperger's because we all wonder if we have it". If you had to make a choice, be as smart as you are now, or be social and normal and all that other stuff that Asperger's people are not, what would you choose?

    Did you know that labeling something is a form of dominance? A person who can successfully label you, owns you. Back in the day, people were eccentric or odd. No big deal. Aspergers is like a power word. Some wizards over in the Psychology department waved their magic wand and Aspergers bubbled out of the pot. Now instead of feeling inferior to hard scientists, the Psychologists can point at you and say the magic word "Aspergers" and POOF! You are nothing. A little kid embarrassed and ashamed of himself. Hiding so no one sees that he has no social skills and thinks differently from others. That will teach you to say psychologists are not real scientists.
  19. Jul 18, 2005 #18


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    And now we return this thread to real science. Happeh, you really should read more about Asperger's if you have gotten the impression that diet will cure it.

    Zooby, I myself am not clear on what the distinction is between high-functioning autism and Asperger syndrome. I'm under the impression the latter is a subset of the former, but am not clear what the diagnostic criteria would be to determine it's Asperger syndrome specifically.

    Recently I met someone who one might wonder if he has Asperger's (or some other high functioning autism type disorder). I don't know if he really did or not, but this is more than just your typical geek or nerd (we were at a party full of scientists, so plenty of geeky/nerdy types present, and he still stood out as even more extreme). When they talk about lack of social skills, we're not talking about someone who just prefers to sit by themself in the corner because they are bored with the conversation or are somewhat introverted, but someone who really doesn't detect the nuances of conversation. He quickly became flustered and didn't quite "get" the jokes being told because he took things totally literally. It's also not just not making eye contact (I know a lot of people uncomfortable looking someone in the eyes, but that's not Asperger's), but that they almost appear to wish they were a turtle that could crawl back into a shell when someone talks to them; they look down, turn away, you may even notice their shoulders hunch, almost like they are cringing away from the conversation rather than just standing with their gaze directed to the floor as a person who is just shy might do.

    But, keep in mind with any psychological/psychiatric disorder that having a single symptom does not mean you have the disorder. You always need to consider the full complement of symptoms someone exhibits.

    Edit: Ah, here's a site that answers a lot of questions. http://www.aspergers.com/

    The diagnostic criteria (DSM-IV) are listed there too.
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2005
  20. Jul 18, 2005 #19
    "Rainman" is high functioning autism.
    According to this book, people with Aspergers find eye contact to be an overwhelmingly intense experience. One guy described it as being like staring into bright car headlights. They don't like to look directly into peoples eyes because they can no longer listen properly to what they are saying if they do. In other words, the sheer visual experience of two eyes looking at them is too intense for them to do that and talk at the same time. This is quite distinct from someone who avoids looking people in the eye from fear of their potentially critical judgements, as from "shyness" or "low self esteem". Asperger's people aren't the least bit afraid of being looked at and mentally judged, it is the intensity of the visual experience of other people's gaze that brings them to a standstill.

    I believe the same is true of autistic people, who experience some normal everyday things at a level of intensity that is painfull.

    This latter doesn't sound like Asperger's. Asperger's people don't present as "shy", despite the lack of eye contact. Aspergers people are much more likely to approach total strangers and bring their favorite subject up out of the blue, then talk about it non-stop.

    What they would avoid at a social gathering is "group" discussions, because the more people there are, the less and less able they would be to talk non-stop about their favorite subject uninterrupted. Asperger's people are not good conversationalists but are enthusiastic monologists.

    As for not getting jokes; people with Asperger's are baffled by certain kinds of jokes, but they aren't at all humorless. They love specific kinds of humor, and are particularly attracted to word-play, and exaggerated comic characters like you'd find in a Mike Meyer's Austin Powers movie.
    Absolutely. A single feature means nothing at all. Even having all the features means nothing if they aren't the right quality.
  21. Jul 18, 2005 #20

    Math Is Hard

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    Wired ran an interesting article about Aspergers a few years back: The Geek Syndrome.
    I remember this article because I took the test that came with it and scored higher than I was expecting. It looks like the online test is broken but you can still score it manually.
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