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People with Asperger syndrome see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you have Asperger syndrome, you have it for life – it is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured’. Often people feel that Asperger syndrome is a fundamental aspect of their identity.
Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some people with Asperger syndrome also have mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels and types of support.
People with Asperger syndrome are of average or above average intelligence. They do not usually have the learning disabilities that many autistic people have, but they may have specific learning difficulties. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.
With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.
Find out how many people have autism, how people with Asperger syndrome see the world, how Asperger syndrome is diagnosed, and how you can help.
How common is Asperger syndrome?
Autism, including Asperger syndrome, is much more common than most people think. There are around 700,000 people in the UK living with autism – that's more than 1 in 100. People with Asperger syndrome come from all nationalities and cultural, religious and social backgrounds, although it appears to affect more men than women.
How do people with Asperger syndrome see the world?
Some people with Asperger syndrome say the world feels overwhelming and this can cause them considerable anxiety.
In particular, understanding and relating to other people, and taking part in everyday family, school, work and social life, can be harder. Other people appear to know, intuitively, how to communicate and interact with each other, yet can also struggle to build rapport with people with Asperger syndrome. People with Asperger syndrome may wonder why they are 'different' and feel their social differences mean people don’t understand them.
Autistic people, including those with Asperger syndrome, often do not 'look' disabled. Some parents of autistic children say that other people simply think their child is naughty, while adults find that they are misunderstood. We are educating the public about autism through our Too Much Information campaign.
A diagnosis is the formal identification of the condition, usually by a multi-
The benefits of a diagnosis
Some people see a formal diagnosis as an unhelpful label, but for many, getting a timely and thorough assessment and diagnosis may be helpful because:
How Asperger syndrome is diagnosed
The characteristics of Asperger syndrome vary from one person to another, but in order for a diagnosis to be made, a person will usually be assessed as having had persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests since early childhood, to the extent that these “limit and impair everyday functioning”.
Autistic people, including those with Asperger syndrome, have difficulties with interpreting both verbal and non-
People with Asperger syndrome usually have good language skills, but they may still find it hard to understand the expectations of others within conversations, perhaps repeating what the other person has just said (this is called echolalia) or talking at length about their own interests.
It often helps to speak in a clear, consistent way and to give people time to process what has been said to them.
People with Asperger syndrome often have difficulty 'reading' other people -
They may find it hard to form friendships. Some may want to interact with other people and make friends, but may be unsure how to go about it.
Restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests
Repetitive behaviour and routines
The world can seem a very unpredictable and confusing place to people with Asperger syndrome, who often prefer to have a daily routine so that they know what is going to happen every day. They may want to always travel the same way to and from school or work, or eat exactly the same food for breakfast.
The use of rules can also be important. It may be difficult for someone to take a different approach to something once they have been taught the 'right' way to do it. They may not be comfortable with the idea of change, but may be able to cope better if they can prepare for changes in advance.
Many people with Asperger syndrome have intense and highly-
Many channel their interest into studying, paid work, volunteering, or other meaningful occupation. People with Asperger syndrome often report that the pursuit of such interests is fundamental to their well being and happiness.
People with Asperger syndrome may also experience over-
Different names for Asperger syndrome
Over the years, different diagnostic labels have been used, such as autism, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), autism spectrum condition (ASC), classic autism, Kanner autism, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), high-
Because of recent and upcoming changes to the main diagnostic manuals, 'autism spectrum disorder' (ASD) is now likely to become the most commonly given diagnostic term. Asperger syndrome remains a useful profile for many diagnosticians and professionals.
Causes and cures
What causes Asperger syndrome?
The exact cause of autism (including Asperger syndrome) is still being investigated. Research into causes suggests that a combination of factors – genetic and environmental – may account for differences in development. It is not caused by a person's upbringing, their social circumstances and is not the fault of the individual with the condition.
Is there a cure?
There is no 'cure' for Asperger syndrome. However, there is a range of strategies and approaches presented by CBT therapy which people may find to be helpful in understanding better their difficulties and adapting their lives.
Like other autism profiles, Asperger syndrome is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.