Are you sure you know everything about Asperger’s Syndrome already? Regardless of whether you have a family or friend with Asperger’s syndrome or are a disability support worker, we dive into some facts and figures that might surprise you, to raise awareness on the topic in light of International Asperger’s Day which took place in Australia this week.

1.    There is no Separate Diagnosis for Asperger’s Syndrome Anymore

Asperger’s syndrome used to be the name given to those who have a lifelong developmental disability that affects how they interact with others and how they perceive the world. However, since 2013 the people who used to be described as having Asperger’s syndrome are now described under the umbrella term of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) – which spans across a number of conditions such as classic autism, Asperger’s syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS).

2.    Asperger’s Syndrome was First Observed in 1944 by Hans Asperger

Viennese pediatrician Hans Asperger was first to observe and identify this type of Autism Spectrum Disorder back in 1944. He observed autism-like behaviours and difficulties with communication and social skills in boys who otherwise had normal language development and intelligence. What distinguishes Asperger’s syndrome from classic autism are its less severe symptoms and the absence of language delays. Hans Asperger is famously quoted to have said “It seems that for success in science and art, a dash of autism is essential. The necessary ingredient may be an ability to turn away from the everyday world, to rethink a subject with originality so as to create in new untrodden ways”.

3.    No Two People with Asperger’s Syndrome/Autism Spectrum Disorder are Exactly the Same

As the condition can vary from mild to moderate or severe in a person, each individual with ASD is unique in their own way. This is why the disorder is referred to as a ‘spectrum’ since the range of features among those with ASD is so extensive. People with Asperger’s syndrome often have average or above average intelligence and can be rather creative, but generally find it difficult to communicate and interact with those around them.

4.    The Exact Cause of Asperger’s Syndrome is Unknown

While the latest research suggests that a combination of genetic and developmental factors may be linked to the cause, currently the exact cause of Autism Spectrum Disorder is unknown. Vaccines do not cause autism.

5.    Celebrities with Asperger’s Syndrome Include Tim Burton, Stephen Fry and Albert Einstein

American director and producer Tim Burton from iconic films Edward Scissorhandsand Beetlejuice is confirmed to have Asperger’s syndrome, as does famous British comedian Stephen Fry. Albert Einstein developed the theory of relativity and was a Nobel-prize winning physicist who is also believed to have had Asperger’s syndrome. Other famous scientists who are rumoured to have had Asperger’s syndrome include Sir Isaac Newton and Marie Curie.

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