Frequently Asked Questions
Aspergers Syndrome (AS) is an autism spectrum disorder/condition (ASD/ASC) - a lifelong development difference, affecting how the person relates to their social and physical environment. It is characterised by significant difficulties in social interaction and non-verbal communication; and restricted and often repetitive behaviours linked to difficulties with imagination and flexibility of thought. There can also be issues with sensory and perceptual differences.
Unlike children with Autism, a diagnosis of Aspergers Syndrome is given to those with typical language and cognitive development. They can have motor neurone issues and are sometimes diagnosed with ADHD. In later life they have a higher probability of suffering from depression and anxiety disorders. Today, Asperger's is considered to be part of the autism spectrum.
In the United Kingdom it is believed that around 700,000 (1.1% of the population) have an autism spectrum condition (ASC). It is believed that four times as many males as females are affected but a high number of women are now being recognised as having Asperger's.
At present this is unknown but it is possible that there is a genetic predisposition and/or environmental component responsible.
Described as a hidden or invisible disabilty, individuals with Aspergers may not initially appear different but their 'mask' will inevitably slip when confronted by stressful social and physical environments. They are said to be 'wired differently' and this challenges their capacity to make sense of everyday social activity despite their desire to do so.
Language tends to be taken literally as non-verbal signals or the tone of voice of others are not easily read or understood. People with Aspergers tend to have narrow interests that can be the focus of their conversations and are often said to be self-focussed and lacking in empathy. Actually they are expanding much more energy simply trying to understand social interaction that comes naturally to the neuro-typical.
Many managers appreciate employees that would rather remain focussed on the task in hand over seemingly meaningless social interaction with colleagues. People with Aspergers could therefore be some of the most productive and valued employees if - and it is a big 'if' - they are provided with a highly systematic and structured low arousal environment.