Adults with high functioning Aspergers can live independent and fulfilling lives, including having their own family and holding down full time employment. However, they often face difficulties caused by their condition as it will often go undiagnosed by professionals and therefore sufferers do not receive the support that is required.
Asperger's Syndrome, also known as Asperger's Disorder, is part of a number of conditions referred to as Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The condition takes its name from the paediatrician who discovered it in the mid 20th century, Hans Asperger, and it affects roughly 1 in every 200 people.
Those who are diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome are most commonly male, and they will often have an average or above average IQ. It is thought to be hereditary, as it can often be found running through families. Symptoms include poor social and communication skills which makes it difficult for sufferers to make friends, as well a general lack of empathy and tendencies to fixate on particular interests. Sometimes the motor functions of a sufferer may also be impaired, which results in facial tics, hand gestures, and other uncontrollable movements.
Due to these difficulties experiences by sufferers, Aspergers sufferers can often become isolated, depressed, suffer from anxiety, stress and also be subject to low self esteem. They can also become understandably frustrated, due mainly to the lack of understanding and communications they have with those around them.
One theory for why the condition appears to occur more often in males is that females tend to be better at adapting to social situations, which perhaps masks the condition. Due to this natural aptitude, Asperger's Syndrome in females is not as easy to detect and subsequently diagnose. Aspergers in females will often manifest similar symptoms to males, i.e. fixation on a particular interest or subject, repetitive behaviour, etc. and may often go into male-orientated professions.
Although diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome has become more common in recent years, it is possible for children and adults alike to have a form of Aspergers known as high functioning Aspergers. This form of the condition is more common in children or adults who have a higher than average intelligence which allows them to work around the limitations of their condition in a way that a sufferer with lower intelligence would not be able to manage. Indeed, Aspergers in adults is not uncommon, with notable sufferers including American actress Daryl Hannah and British singer/songwriter Paul Newman. Historical figures said to have had Asperger's Syndrome include American Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, as well as English physicist Isaac Newton and famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
There is no cure, nor any specific medication, that is available to treat Asperger's Syndrome. The condition can be eased through a combination of special education that is specific to the individual, as well as social interaction therapies which enables sufferers to learn the social cues and body language that non sufferers may take for granted. Even with this support however, a sufferer can become exhausted and stressed in trying to modify their behaviour to 'fit in' with others. Aspergers in adults might often be perceived by others as strange or as attention seeking, so those with a good support network of family and friends who can understand and deal with their behaviour tend to thrive far better than those who do not have such a network.