Autism And Apergers! Do You Know Somebody With Asperger’s Or Autism?

What Are Aspergers And Autism?

Do you know someone suffering from Asperger's or autism?


At the time of writing, 1 in 110 children, and 1 in 70 boys are now considered to be “sufferers” of autism, and many of our most successful and talented people are reckoned to be “sufferers” too and the numbers are increasing rapidly.

Although the behaviors known as Asperger syndrome were first described in the 1940s, the diagnosis was not officially recognized until 1994 and children that now get labeled as ‘suffering’ from Asperger’s Syndrome would previously have received the very positive label of being intellectually gifted just a few years ago.

Famous people that are thought to be “sufferers” include, Bill Gates who is one of the top ten wealthiest people in the world (and he doesn’t seem to be suffering) and Steven Spielberg (is he suffering?) to mention just two and the list goes on and on.

And names from the past include such people as Shakespeare, Isaac Newton and Einstein who certainly made major contributions to our planet.

What are the tell-tale signs?

Limited but intense range of interests, especially specific intellectual areas.
Difficulty in social relationships, especially responding appropriately to others.
Problems communicating, such as difficulty making conversation or understanding others.

Given the incredibly high number of people that are now reckoned to suffer from Asperger’s Syndrome and Autism, and the enormous contribution that many of them have made and are presently making, I wonder how society should be looking at them.

Are they sick, or simply much more intelligent and focused?

Should “sufferers” be looked down upon or considered geniuses?

What Are Thought To Be The Causes Of Autism?

Right now, there is no known single cause for autism, but in the research community it is generally believed that it is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function.

Brain scans show differences in the shape and structure of the brain in children with autism versus in neurotypical children.

Researchers continue to investigate a number of theories, including the links among heredity, genetics and medical problems.

Genetic Vulnerability?

Autism tends to occur more frequently than is presently expected among individuals who have certain medical conditions, including Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, congenital rubella syndrome, and untreated phenylketonuria (PKU).

And some harmful substances ingested during pregnancy also have been associated with an increased risk of autism.

Environmental Factors

Research indicates other factors besides the genetic component are contributing to the rise in increasing occurrence of autism, such as environmental toxins (e.g. heavy metals such as mercury), which are more prevalent in our environment than in the past.

And it seems, that those with autism (or those at risk) might be especially vulnerable, because their ability to metabolize and detoxify these exposures can be compromised.

What do you think?

Feedback and comments are welcome and you don’t need to login to post them.

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17 Responses to Autism And Apergers! Do You Know Somebody With Asperger’s Or Autism?

  1. donald-drake says:

    “Should “sufferers” be looked down upon or considered geniuses?” ?

    I’m not sure if the people who are autistic or have asperger’s syndrome suffer.

    I’d imagine that people around them suffer more, people like their parents and teachers etc.

    But it would be nice to hear from somebody who has been given given either label, and to hear from them as to whether they suffer or not.

    “Should ‘sufferers’ be looked down upon or considered geniuses?” ?

    Certainly not “looked down upon”!

    And if they make valuable contributions to society, then they should be praised!

  2. Gladys says:

    Donald, if you want to get an idea of what it feels like to have asperger’s then take a look at this ..

    Not sure if every sufferer experiences it, but you and others who watch the vid will certainly be able to relate/sympathize and perhaps be amazed at how sufferers perceive their surroundings.

  3. divka says:

    This video is from a seminar given by Marian Joiner and it gives a very unique glimpse into the mind of an individual living with autism.–Meaeug

    Her seminars are considered informative, funny and enlightening and although I find the clip “informative” and “enlightening” I personally found Marion to be incredibly hyper and somewhat difficult to stay with without getting jumpy myself.

  4. big-thoughts says:

    What are the differences between Asperger’s Disorder and ‘High Functioning’ (i.e. IQ > 70) Autism?

    One of my family members has a son who has been diagnosed as being autistic and I wondered what the differences were between "autism" and "asperger’s syndrome, and this is what found.

    It is believed that with Asperger’s Disorder that;

    the onset is usually later

    the outcome is usually more positive

    the social and communication deficits are less severe

    various circumscribed interests are generally more prominent

    verbal IQ is usually higher than performance IQ whereas with autism, the case is usually the reverse.

    clumsiness is more frequently observable

    the family’s history is more frequently positive

    neurological disorders are less common

    If anybody has more info on this then please update us ..

  5. lizah78 says:

    i have a lot of experience with autism as my middle child has it and have gone on to meet many many parents of children with autism.
    i would say that yes, it bothers me as his parent, but it also is a problem for him. he has no control over his emotions, his sensory overload, his intestinal/ physical health. autism isnt simply neurological. i think that if he goes into a crying hysterical fit because he has his picture taken and everytime we simply pass a photo studio in a mall it starts all over again is not something he would choose for himself. he is obviously suffering and doesnt know how to sooth/comfort/protect himself.
    as his mom i choose to see this as an opportunity to really make a differnce in this childs life by helping him learn ways to cope with his disability.
    i have also met adults with autism and they will tell you it is torturous to even leave the house, let alone have to deal with human relationships once you’re out there.

  6. big-believer says:

    Hi Liza!

    I was going to say “It’s great to have somebody posting that has an intimate experience of the problem”, but on seconds thoughts, “I wish you were posting without having to undergo that experience”.

    You mention “autism” and not “aspergers’, so if you wouldn’t mind sharing:

    Do you agree with the ‘signs’ posted above by “big-thoughts” and why do you feel that your child is autistic and not suffering from Aspergers Syndrome?

    Do you think that people like Gates and Spielberg can not just greatly succeed in life but also be happy, because they have Asperger’s and are not autistic?

    If you don’t feel comfortable answering, then I and others will understand, because not only can’t this be easy for you and your the family, but it must be very hard too!

  7. lizah78 says:

    when he was diagnosed the dr. told me the only difference betewwn hf autism and aspbergers is if speech dev’d normally or not. his did not so he was labeled hf. i would say the list above is pretty accurate.
    as far as “success”, i find that in life it means somehing different to everybody. to some it means financial or marriage or carreer or whatever. so that is a very personal thing to try to judge. as far as happiness, i don’t know. most “typical” people aren’t happy unless they choose to make it a priority. i just think a spectrum disorder…add/adhd/asp/autism/alzheimers….makes life harder than it is already.

  8. big-believer says:

    Liza, thanks for the info.

    As I understand it then, kids that are diagnosed “hf autism” (are there other kinds?) develop a higher IQ before they advance with speech which isn’t what most people would imagine I suspect.

    The list of people that include Bill Gates etc are supposed to have Asperger’s and not be hf autistic.

    So what happens later autistic kids drop back in IQ as they advance with speech, and vice versa?

    And it sounds like you’ve made happiness a priority which is wonderful!

  9. peterson says:

    I noticed you wrote “aspbergers” and thought “wow is that how you spell it?”.

    It seems though that you were thinking about a.s.a.p. burgers for the those kids 🙂

    Hey, I’m just razzing you, and you seem like a lovely person who’s really on top of what must be a difficult load to carry 😉

    And I’m sure the boy brings you a lot of joy as well as heartache.

  10. knopfman says:

    This post is making many of us look at something that most of us probably never gave a thought to before, so thank you Michael for the original post.

    The sheer number of people afflicted by Asperger’s and autism shocked and surprised me and I shall do some research into whether or not the numbers are increasing, and if there are links to diet and preservatives etc.

    A friend of mine who’s daughter has a teenage son that was diagnosed with Asperger’s many years ago pointed me to a site that quotes from a 2002 book by Diane Kennedy, The ADHD Autism Connection, in which she writes that;

    "The years from twelve to seventeen are the saddest and most difficult time for people with Asperger Syndrome"

    My friend however pointed out that this is not true of every teen with Asperger Syndrome because some do extremely well and their indifference to what others think quite often makes them almost oblivious to the intense peer pressure of adolescence.

    Meaning that a great many can flourish within their specialty, and become accomplished musicians, historians, and mathematicians, as well as top in the field of IT.

    Kennedy notes however that Aspie teens (her phraseology and not mine) typically become more isolated socially during a period when they crave friendships and inclusion more than ever.

    It seem ‘lucky’ then that "Aspie teens" are blessed with a degree of "indifference" which enables them to avoid the isolation which can so easily exist in the teenage world.

    In the teenage world where everyone feels insecure, teens that appear different are often voted off the island, since most ..

    Aspies often have odd mannerisms.

    Another talks in a loud unmodulated voice, avoids eye contact, interrupts others, violates their physical space, and steers the conversation to his or her favorite odd topic.

    And another appears willful, selfish and aloof, mostly because he is unable to share his thoughts and feelings with others.

    Fom my brief research so far it would appear that great strides are being made in the treatment of autism and Asperger’s and perhaps surprisingly, the best treatment centers in the world seem to exist in Israel.

    That said, it appears that the earlier that effective treatments are started the better, and although very expensive, good treatment also exists in the US.

  11. peterson says:

    I just came across some information that I’m sure Lizah already knows about, but I’d certainly never given a thought to and it makes my heart go out to all parents of autistic children.

    "Brushing helps a child to stay calm, to focus better and learn to self-regulate and this practice is easy to perform and can quickly become a routine for your child".

    Well that sounds simple, but here comes the rub, no pun intended!

    Autism Brushing Protocol Example

    1. Hold brush horizontally (across) if clothes are off, vertically (up/down) if clothes are on.

    2. Hold right hand, brushing right arm in an up/down motion, turn child’s hand to reach whole arm (5-8 times).

    3. Brush right hand (5 times) each side.

    4. Hold left hand, brush left arm, (5-8 times).

    5. Brush left hand (3-5 times) on each side.

    6. Brush child’s back in random order (5-8 times).

    7. Brush right leg in an up/down motion (5-8 times), and brush right foot (3-5 times) on each side.

    8. Brush left leg (5-8 times) and brush left foot (3-5 times) on each side.


    – Make sure to NEVER brush the stomach, neck or head.
    – Brush with firm pressure
    – Avoid all light touch
    – Check brush each time (stiff – scratch, too soft)
    – Repeat every TWO hours


  12. knopfman says:

    The ‘brushing’ thing sounds nuts!

    It may well help the child but might destroy the parents in the process.

    Massage seem like it might be a better alternative.

    "Twenty children with autism, aged between 3 and 6 years old were randomly assigned to massage therapy and reading attention control groups.

    Parents in the massage therapy group were trained by a massage therapist to massage their children for 15 minutes prior to bedtime every night for 1 month and the parents of the attention control group read Dr. Seuss stories to their children on the same time schedule.

    Conners Teacher and Parent scales, classroom and playground observations and sleep diaries were used to assess the effects of therapy on various behaviors, including hyperactivity, stereotypical and off-task behavior, and sleep problems.

    The results suggested that the children in the massage group exhibited less stereotypic behavior and showed more on-task and social relatedness behavior during play observations at school, and they experienced fewer sleep problems at home".

    Touch Research Institute, University of Miami School of Medicine, FL 33101, USA.

  13. lizah78 says:

    the brushing worked amazing and decreased a lot of his sensory issues. we did it twice a day for 9 months until he didn’t like it anymore.
    as far as being oblivious during the teenage years….blessing i think!!!! i read a book where he said he didn’t notice a lot of the teasing and the teasing he did notice was ok because he was glad to be included 🙁
    and yes, theres aspbergers, hf and low functioning autism.
    we have things which we find makes him calm. he has an aromatherapy spray which we told him makes him calm. so in the throws of a tantrum i will spray him and he says “it makes me calm” and he will stop. he is very open to the power of suggestion.
    i would say one of the most difficult things is that he has a really hard time conveying info which ccan be very frustrating b/c i know he knows the answer.
    the stats are currently 1 in 58 boys and 1 in 250 girls WORLDWIDE afftected by autism spectrum!!!

  14. Gladys says:

    Lizah, you mention "the stats are currently 1 in 58 boys and 1 in 250 girls WORLDWIDE afftected by autism spectrum!!!".

    And look what I just read ..

    "In the past decade, there has been a significant surge in the number of kids diagnosed with autism throughout California. In August 1993, there were 4,911 cases of so-called level-one autism logged in the state’s Department of Developmental Services client-management system. This figure doesn’t include kids with Asperger’s syndrome, but only those who have received a diagnosis of classic autism. In the mid-’90s, this caseload started spiraling up. In 1999, the number of clients was more than double what it had been six years earlier. Then the curve started spiking. By July 2001, there were 15,441 clients in the DDS database. Now there are more than seven new cases of level-one autism, 85% of them children, entering the system every day".

    And California Is Not Alone.

    Rates of both classic autism and Asperger’s syndrome are going up all over the world, which is certainly cause for alarm and for the urgent mobilization of research.

    Autism was once considered a very rare disorder, occurring in one out of every 10,000 births.

    Now however it’s understood to be much more common, meaning perhaps twent times more common and according to local authorities, the picture in California is particularly gloomy in Santa Clara County.

    In Silicon Valley, family support services provided by the DDS are brokered by the San Andreas Regional Center, and it’s one of twenty one such centers in the state and SARC dispenses desperately needed resources, such as in-home behavioral training, educational aides, and respite care to families in four counties.

    SARC’s director, Santi Rogers is on record as saying that, "The percentage of cases of classic autism among the total client population in Santa Clara County is high enough to be worrisome. There’s a significant difference, and no signs that it’s abating. We’ve been watching these numbers for years. We feared that something like this was coming. But this is a burst that has staggered us in our steps."

  15. eagerwatcher says:

    I just checked dozens of sites that search engines directed me to when I asked, "Is autism curable?".

    Nearly every site argues that it is not completely curable, but add that if the problem is caught early enough then all available evidence suggests that a great many autistic children can go on on to lead not only "normal lives" but successful ones too.

    Digging a little deeper though I found more encouraging information!

    There are more than 1,000 documented recoveries from autism that have been reported to the Autism Research Institute in San Diego, CA.  and the majority were treated by the same methods described in key autism literature, by clinicians specifically trained in the biomedical treatment of autism.

    Will Every Child Recover?

    No, would seem to be the honest answer.

    But it would appear that those that are seeing DAN (Defeat Autism Now) clinicians have a have a 20-30% of good to very good chance of a ‘full’ recovery if they start on a biomedical treatment program before age 2.5.

    * Defeat Autism Now (DAN!) is a project of the Autism Research Institute, founded in the 1960s by Dr. Bernard Rimland and its practitioners believe that autism is a disorder caused by a combination of lowered immune response, external toxins from vaccines and other sources, and problems caused by certain foods.

    It involves a special diet, such as gluten-free/casein-free or a "specific carbohydrate diet"; supplements, such as high doses of certain vitamins and amino acids; and detoxification/chelation for removing heavy metals from the body.

    ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) is a system of autism treatment based on behaviorist theories which, simply put, state that behaviors can be taught through a system of rewards and consequences.

    It is probably the most widely and most documented treatment, and although it has had many successes, it has many detractors too.

  16. Jake the Hake says:

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 1 in 88 U.S. children has been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

    The figure, based on 2008 estimates from 14 monitoring sites around the country, represents a 23 percent increase over 2006 estimates.

    According to federal health officials, improved screening and treatment is likely responsible for some of this increase, but exactly how much remains unclear.

  17. stacey says:

    i have been diagnosed with borderline pdd nos and other days borderline aspergers. my former partner most likely is on the spectrum as well as has co morbid disorders. people do suffer with the spectrum either because they are on it and something is causing distress or because you are trying to help someone on the spectrum. the sooner the whole human race decides to grow up the sooner we can put things in place to help others at all levels and stages. respect to those who care for those on the spectrum..

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