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The Facts about Asperger's Syndrome

written by: Michelle McFarland-McDaniels • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 3/15/2011

Eyes down for some fascinating facts about Asperger's syndrome. In this article you will find out about the man who first described the disorder, some interesting characteristics of aspies as well as the prognosis for individuals who have Asperger's syndrome.

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    Facts about Asperger's: The Man Behind the Syndrome

    • Asperger's syndrome is named after Hans Asperger, an Austrian physician who published numerous studies about autism in children. As a child, Asperger was intelligent, possessed high level verbal skills—he frequently quoted an Austrian poet and dramatist Franz Grillzparzer—had difficulty making friends and had poor social skills. These are classic symptoms of the syndrome that bears his name.

    • Asperger's work, which was written in German, and not translated into English until 1989. A decade later, Asperger's syndrome was widely recognized as a diagnosis in many parts of the world. Asperger Services Australia declared Asperger's birthday, February 18, International Asperger's Day.

    • Hans Asperger had a firm belief that his patients' disorder would turn into an advantage for them later in life. Some of his highly accomplished patients appear to have proved him right. They include Fritz V., who became an astronomy professor and went on to correct an error in Newton's work he originally noticed as a child, and Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2004. Jelinek's work is described as having "extraordinary linguistic zeal."
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    Facts about Asperger's: Characteristics of Aspies

    • People who have Asperger's syndrome often develop a highly focused fixation on a single topic that they develop impressive knowledge about and expertise in.

    • Individuals with Asperger's syndrome seem to lack the ability to gauge the interests of others. They will often talk incessantly about a topic their audience has absolutely no interest in.

    • Aspies have a tendency to be very rigid about schedules and routines. They expect things to be the same way all the time and have difficulty being flexible and adjusting to change.
    • Children who have Asperger's syndrome often exhibit problems with motor functioning such as clumsiness, or difficulty performing tasks that require coordination such as riding a bike, catching a ball or climbing play equipment. They may also engage in repetitive behaviors like flapping or twisting.
    • Some children with Asperger's syndrome may have other conditions that commonly co-exist with the disorder, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Tourette syndrome.
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    Diagnosis and Treatment

    • Doctors look for specific behaviors when seeking to diagnose an individual with Asperger's syndrome. These include aloofness, little interest in peers and failure to engage in interactive play.
    • A variety of therapies may be beneficial to people with Asperger's syndrome such as speech therapy to improve communication skills, social skills training to enhance the ability to interact with others, physical therapy to improve motor skills and occupational therapy to aid sensory function.
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    Prognosis

    • Many people with Asperger's syndrome are able to work and live independently. They often continue to have problems with communication and social interaction and may be considered a bit odd or awkward, but with appropriate support they are generally able to function just fine.
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    References

    American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, http://aacap.org/page.ww?name=Aspergers%20Disorder&section=Facts+for+Families

    The Better Health Centre, http://www.betterhealthcentre.com/autism/asperger-syndrome.htm

    Burton, Michelle. "Hans Asperger: How He Changed the Future of Autism Diagnosis", http://www.healthguideinfo.com/aspergers-syndrome/p86861/

    de la Durantaye, Leland. "On Cynicism. Dogs, Hair, Elfriede Jelinek and the Nobel Prize" Harvard Review. Harvard University, 2005

    Mayo Clinic, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/aspergers-syndrome/DS00551

    Nobelprize.org, http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/2004/jelinek.html

    PubMed Health, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002516/

    WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/brain/autism/tc/aspergers-syndrome-symptoms

    Whonamedit?, http://www.whonamedit.com/doctor.cfm/302.html