I have a friend with Asperger Syndrome...?

I've always been interested in the medical field and psychology and I read a lot, so I knew the basics of Asperger's when I met a friend of mine this past October. He's twenty and basically just socially inept. Most people, including friends he's known since he was really young, act scared of his temper and avoid his touchy subjects. I know, though, that he wouldn't hurt a fly even when he's at his angriest. I don't avoid subjects he hates, but word things carefully around him instead.

Just recently he did something at work that might have gotten him sacked. He hasn't said what it was, but I do know it had to do with his temper. It's usually not that severe...

I'm really looking for any experts or parents of children with Asperger Syndrome to help me understand a bit more.

Any information would be appreciated, thanks.

Update:

Just clarifying: I don't not consider him normal, just someone with differences that need to be addressed sometimes. He was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome as a child.

Thanks for the input, everyone! I love hearing (or rather, reading) your stories! I'm going to keep this question open to see what others have to say.

Update 2:

Thanks Alex, I like your video. It puts things into perspective.

12 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. Autism is often described as a 'spectrum disorder' because the condition affects people in many different ways and to varying degrees.

    Asperger syndrome is mostly a 'hidden disability'. This means that you can't tell that someone has the condition from their outward appearance. People with the condition have difficulties in three main areas. They are:

    * social communication

    * social interaction

    * social imagination.

    They are often referred to as 'the triad of impairments'

    While there are similarities with autism, people with Asperger syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average, or above average, intelligence. They do not usually have the accompanying learning disabilities associated with autism, but they may have specific learning difficulties. These may include dyslexia and dyspraxia or other conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and epilepsy.

    With the right support and encouragement, people with Asperger syndrome can lead full and independent lives.

    People with Asperger syndrome sometimes find it difficult to express themselves emotionally and socially.

    Many people with Asperger syndrome want to be sociable but have difficulty with initiating and sustaining social relationships, which can make them very anxious.

    People with Asperger syndrome can be imaginative in the conventional use of the word. For example, many are accomplished writers, artists and musicians. But people with Asperger syndrome can have difficulty with social imagination.

    There are over half a milion people in the UK with an autism spectrum disorder - that's around 1 in 100. People with Asperger syndrome come from all nationalities, cultures, social backgrounds and religions. However, the condition appears to be more common in males than females; the reason for this is unknown.

    You friend will have routines and rules that will govern his life. Things that you and I take for granted or dismiss as non important, to you friend will be the centre of his life. Any change to these routines will spark fear and worry, sometimes causing outbursts and anger. This is NO fault of your friend but part of him.

    There will be things that he dislikes with intent and mentioning them will be too much for him to bare, there will be things he won't touch, and to do so would be like you or me putting our hands into boiling water, and there will be things that he fears, a fear that to him is as real as life it's self.

    I have four young boys, three with autism. I have learnt much over the years on this subject, the whole special needs spectrum that is autism fasinates me and even after reading many books on the subject, I still know very little, when it comes to dealing with outbursts from my sons.

    Just be yourself around him. Yes treat him with 'kid gloves' with subjects you know he finds hard to talk about but on the whole, treat him as an intelligent and unique man.

  • 1 decade ago

    There are two points of view concerning Asperger's. The first is that Asperger's is a condition in it's own right, - the second that it forms part of the autistic spectrum.

    It comes accross clearly that you think people with Asperger's are just people, - and you are right. They do have issues however with emotion, socialisation, imagination and communication to varying degrees. In some people the threshold for them becoming upset can be very low and their regulation of the emotional response is inhibited.

    If you want to learn more, look at the following sources.

  • undir
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    As much as 80% of human communication is non-verbal (body language, facial expressions, tone of voice etc.). People with Asperger's syndrome are "blind" to most non-verbal communication, which means that we only "get" about 20% of other people's communication. We also don't use body language the same way others do. All this can lead to a lot of misunderstandings and frustrations.

    It's hard for us to know other people's intentions and likewise it's hard for others to know our intentions. Maybe your friend misunderstood something badly and got really angry over it, while the other person didn't mean anything bad, or maybe your friend did something that he didn't realize would upset or anger someone else at work. Clashes like this happen all the time with people with Asperger's syndrome and it can be really frustrating, confusing and hard to deal with.

    I hope this helps you understand.

    Source(s): I'm an adult with Asperger's syndrome.
  • 1 decade ago

    Has your friend been diagnosed as having Aspergers? Because all you have described is someone who has a temper and hasn't learnt social skills, apparently because since he was young, everyone has avoided anything that got him upset.

    My brother is aspergic, probably on the milder end, and he doesn't get into unacceptable tempers. Haz's description of her son with him changing topics to something of interest and ignoring others, made me smile, that's my brother all over. Also my brother is now in his 70's, and is socially inept, and doesn't respond well to social cues. But he is extremely intelligent in his fields of interest.

    A more severe aspergic is portrayed in the tv series "Boston Legal", and gets into trouble because of it. But has friends who help him out. And he has had some inappropriate behaviours.

    But re your friend, would it not be better to try and explain what their behaviour is doing to other people and that it is in their interest to curtail that behaviour, even if they do not understand why they should have to. It is a fact that if it does impact on other people, and if he wants to get on with other people, then he has to be aware of what impacts on those people.

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  • Gypsy
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    I have two children who probably have Asperger's.

    It is not always diagnosed, because the range of symptoms can be vast.

    My kids, (one an adult and the other a young teen) both have problems filtering stimuli.

    That was the cause of most of my kid's outbursts. Some Aspies are hypersensitive to noises, odors, and touch. Music playing in the back ground, a funny smell,(that most people wouldn't even be able to discern) touching things, (even their own clothes sometimes) can drive them to distraction. Other people are not aware that very simple things like that, that most people don't even notice is enough to drive them to distraction.

    They are also very, very honest. And very literal. Their sense of justice is pretty rigid and they find it difficult to compromise their standards or ideas. They just don't "slough off"injustice. My son found that extremely hard to deal with in the workplace. He also went totally bonkers when co-workers played their music.

    My kids can be very emotionally labile, because they may be seen as "different" they are often targeted. Lots of jerks, kids and adults, like to push their buttons just to see them lose their composure.

    It's hard to be an Aspie, my daughter is so incredibly lonely, as was my son when he was young. he is an adult now and has adapted to a life of solitude and doesn't seem to miss social interaction. When he was young it hurt him. They dress funny, miss all the social cues and have such rigid behavior that other people just drift away from them.

    I hope your friend doesn't lose his job. It is very kind of you to look out for him. he may feel very lonely and confused about why people don't see things his way.

    You have great answers but nobody had addressed the stimuli problem which is HUGE for many aspies. Can you imagine putting on a sweater everyone insists is soft and finding that it feels like barb wire? And everyone thinks you are nuts? that is how it is for a lot of them.

  • Haz
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    I loved this question.

    My son has a form of Aspergers ( the permutations on the Autistic spectrum are endless as Zoe has explained so well ) he is not affected 'emotionally' but struggles to make sense of social interactions .

    I can identify with the outbursts you describe and equally identify with him not being violent just feeling exploding rage at the frustration of the world.

    It is hard to try and reason with him because 99% of the time what he says is true - it's almost like he can see right through the flim flam and fakeness of social interactions. He refuses to play along. If he says to me why do I have to say hello to someone who says hello to me when I don't even like them?...That kind of stuff. He is woeful at small talk..I'm not going to lie- this makes me laugh to see him refuse to play the game and sigh when people ask him if he likes school. He just turns the conversation around to what he considers interesting..

    It's harsh but they have to intellectualise that they cannot give way to those frustrations.They have to learn the rules that come naturally to those not affected. One part of me feels very much that it's like telling a blind person he must see , many people affected by Autism feel they have 'rights' to behave and feel the way they do just as any other disability should be accepted. It's so hard to argue otherwise but the whole of humanity and society is a biggie to take on..lol.

    I would say your friend needs some support within his workplace its a very common problem for people affected but if it's jepordising his job there may be things that could be altered for him to make his job less stressful to him..The autistic society is always a good place to start.

    I think you are a lovely friend :-)

  • 1 decade ago

    Edit: sorry, I think you may know where I was coming from with my original answer. You might find books by Temple Grandin useful, she has Asperger's & has written several books about it. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night by Mark Haddon has also been recommended before.

    If your friend does have a formal diagnosis, it might be useful for him to look into the Disability Discrimination Act to see if he's covered, the act obliges employers to make certain accommodations for employees with disabilities, however if he hasn't told them about his diagnosis there will no case against them.

    The National Autistic Society is one of the charities currently working with Autistic children & adults in the UK, they should also have local support groups they can put you in touch with.

    http://www.nas.org.uk/asperger

    Original Answer:Sometimes people are just socially inept, it's not Autistic children that need to learn to acquire social skills, sometimes ordinary folk do too. His failure to control his temper or to learn how to deal with his anger are not necessarily indicators of Asperger's. Does he have bursts of rage followed by a 'down'? If you'd read about the indicators for depression, you might spot that in him too. He could also simply be a young man who's failing to get a grip on his temper, we are still growing & learning during our twenties, it can actually be a more difficult period then adolescence because we're considered adults & often cast adrift from the support we actually need.

    A colleague who works in an Autism Advisory Team commented that after she does awareness training at a school, the number of referrals to her team always shoots up - many of these referrals are completely unnecessary, they occur because the teacher has learned something new & suddenly every child they have difficulties with appears to be on the autistic spectrum.

    There are parents using this forum who have children with Autism, who will probably be happy to speak to you but there are very few practising experts. If you were in the UK, I would advise you to contact the Local Education Authority, their special needs section would be able to put you in contact with their Autism advisors. You could also make contact with local charities who deal specifically with Autism. If you're in the US, there should be some centralised education authority who should be able to put you in contact with the right people.

  • 1 decade ago

    i really can not add much to what others have said so well

    as a mum to a 17 year old aspergers son life's never dull that's for sure!!

    i have had to learn to change me not him over the years

    i have become more patient and learnt ways to communicate with him on his level

    your right about not avoiding subjects he dislikes and putting it in a way that he can fill comfortable talking about it

    but my advice would be not to push too far i now have learnt when i need to back off and give my son some space before we get to the outburst stage

    i think you and your friend are very lucky to have each other

  • 1 decade ago

    i loved haz's answer--i related to it so much as my son as AS.

    people with this are just so unique.

    i think it's deplorable that society judges such people as being "not normal"--but who are we to judge?

    simon baron cohen thinks that the aspergers brain to be the most extreme form of male brain.

    if he is correct then we must think of these males as the fore bearers of the male human race.

    i love the simplicity of their thought processes---they do indeed cut through all the crap that society spins.

    i enjoy my son hugely as he is so different. a friendship with a person with AS is so worthwhile--once a friend is made they will be your friend for life.

    my son has made some brilliant friends over the years and they always look out for him.

  • 1 decade ago

    I know alot of people with Asperger's and they are 'normal' to me. If they hadn't told me I wouldn't otherwise have known.

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