Asperger's syndrome

In the disorder discovered by Hans Asperger in the 1940's, the classical autistic symptoms — low capacity for communication and social interaction, restricted and repetitious stereotyped behavior — take a different and less disabling form than the symptoms found in infantile autism, and may require not only different treatments but a different social attitude. Asperger's disorder (or syndrome) was added to the American Psychiatric Association's official diagnostic manual in 1994 and is believed to affect about one in 300 children (and adults), nearly 90% of them male.

Despite normal and sometimes superior intelligence, people with Asperger's have difficulty understanding social conventions and reading social cues. As a result, they often seem tactless or rude, and making friends can be hard for them. Complicated feelings tend to confuse them. They may be unable to take hints, keep secrets, or under--stand metaphor, irony, and humor. The meaning of gestures, tone of voice, and facial expressions are a mystery to them, and their own body language and expressions may be inappropriate or hard to interpret. They stand too close, talk too loudly, and don't make eye contact. They have one-track minds that focus narrowly but intensely, some-times producing long-winded lecturing on subjects of interest only to themselves.

They are often clumsy, with poor handwriting and sometimes repetitive movements like rocking, or routines that resemble obsessive-compulsive behavior. They are easily upset when their expectations are not met or their routines disturbed; for example, they may want to wear the same clothes and follow the same rigid schedule every day. Sometimes they are unusually sensitive to sounds, smells, and touch.

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