What Is Asperger’s Anyway?

This weekend so many people asked me, What is Asperger’s?  How can I tell if my son has it?

My book, “Unforgiving, Memoir of an Asperger Teen” took a 1st place Journey award, and prompted a lot of questions about the syndrome.

People with Asperger’s find it difficult to read body language, voice intonation, and facial expression. This creates difficulty communicating and interacting with other people.

Asperger’s doesn’t always affect individuals to the same degree, or in exactly the same manner, which is why it is said to be on the “autism spectrum”.  That is, it is a highly functional and variable condition that alters how we relate to others, understand our community, and express ourselves.

Sometimes we feel hopelessly lost in a conversation.  We cannot always determine what is sincere and what is merely light-hearted social bantering.  Sometimes this is so isolating that we withdraw.  We do not understand what is being said or in what context and therefore we pretend to be disinterested.

This makes us very bad at small talk, which is society’s established method of feeling each other out before going into deeper conversations.  Small talk is a protective device that helps people locate each other in their social setting and their community, whether it’s school or work or something recreational.

People with Asperger’s tend to want to talk at a deeper level.  They have trouble understanding this is not appropriate much of the time.

We may not be able to tell when to join or start a conversation, or when the conversation is over.  We may talk over the other person and generally interrupt at lot.  A great website to look at for assistance is the UK’s National Autistic Society website at: http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/autism-and-asperger-syndrome-an-introduction/what-is-asperger-syndrome.aspx.

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