"I have a new boyfriend who is handsome, but quirky. I'm wondering if he has Asperger Syndrome. I wouldn't hold that against him if he has this disorder, but knowing that he does - if he does - would sure explain a lot of things for me. Is there a way to know for sure before approaching him on this matter?"
As more and more doctors - and society in general - understand more about Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism, the condition is being diagnosed in grown-ups as well as kids. Sometimes the diagnosis doesn’t come out in adults until their own son or daughter is diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Typical symptoms associated with Aspergers in adults include:
- adhering strongly to routines and schedules
- an average or above average intelligence
- difficulty controlling their feelings
- difficulty empathizing with others
- difficulty thinking abstractly
- difficulty understand the emotions of others
- missing the subtleties of facial expression, eye contact and body language
- poor conversational ability
- some inappropriate social behaviors
- specializing in specific fields or hobbies
If your boyfriend has several of these traits, then he may want to seek an official diagnosis.
A way for you to approach the matter is to lead with strengths. Most people with Aspergers have significant areas of strength (even if this has not been translatable into tangible success). Bring up areas of strength with your boyfriend. Next, tactfully point out the areas in which he may be struggling. Then, suggest to him that there is a name for that confusing combination of strengths and challenges, and it may be Aspergers.
Like kids with Aspergers, these adults are often seen as odd. In years past, such individuals muddled along in society - sometimes on the fringes – while others were diagnosed with different types of mental illnesses. Now that Aspergers and High-Functioning Autism have been brought into the public light by cases of people who either have succeeded despite the disorder or committed crimes as a result of having previously undiagnosed Aspergers, more adults are being picked-up and treated for the condition.
Often these aren’t adults specifically asking for help for suspected Aspergers, but rather have anxiety and/or depression, issues around self-esteem, or other mood issues that bring them to doctors or therapists that are now making the correct underlying diagnosis.
By finding the correct underlying diagnosis, more help can become available even to those who’ve likely had the diagnosis their entire lives – but were unnoticed or labeled something else.