Do I have Aspergers?

Do you find yourself confused in social situations? Are you passionately interested in a single topic? Is it tough for you to make and maintain eye contact? Then you, like many talented and intelligent adults, may be diagnosable with Aspergers.

Aspergers is different from other disorders on the autism spectrum, in part, because it is often diagnosed in older kids and adults as opposed to very young kids. That's because Aspergers is a relatively mild form of ASD which does not include problems with basic language skills. Many individuals with Aspergers are very bright and capable. The issues that emerge for individuals diagnosed with Aspergers are related specifically to social and communication skills -- skills that only become significant as individuals get older and need to negotiate complex social situations.

What Does It Mean to Have Aspergers?

What does it mean to have Aspergers? Clearly, since so many successful individuals seem to have the diagnosis (Dan Ackroyd, for one, announced his diagnosis on the air -- and rumor has it that Bill Gates may also have Aspergers) it is not a disability in the classic sense. In fact, some historians suggest that Einstein, Mozart, and Alan Turing (the inventor of the first electronic computer) may all have been diagnosable with Aspergers.

What individuals with Aspergers do have in common is a set of characteristics that may make social interaction particularly difficult. Many individuals with Aspergers have been bullied or teased as kids. They may be awkward with the opposite sex. And they may have a tough time maneuvering through complex social cues at school, at work, or elsewhere.

The Cambridge Lifespan Aspergers Service (CLASS), an organization in the United Kingdom that works with adults with Aspergers has developed a simple ten question checklist to help with a preliminary self-diagnosis. If you answered “yes” to some or most of these questions, you may decide to find out more.

• I am good at picking up details and facts.
• I can focus on certain things for very long periods.
• I did not enjoy imaginative story-writing at school.
• I do certain things in an inflexible, repetitive way.
• I find it hard to make small talk.
• I find it hard to work out what other individuals are thinking and feeling.
• I find social situations confusing.
• I have always had difficulty making friends.
• I have unusually strong, narrow interests.
• Individuals often say I was rude even when this was not intended.

If you do answer “yes” to many of these questions relative to yourself or a loved one, you may have uncovered an undiagnosed case of Aspergers. For some teenagers and adults, this is a tremendous relief: it puts a name on a set of issues that has troubled them throughout their lives. And it also opens the door to support, treatment, and community.

But there is no obligation to do anything at all about Aspergers. In fact, many adults feel that being having Aspergers is a point of pride. They are unique, often successful individuals who are simply … themselves!

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