Asperger’s and Genetics

Father and childDo you have a child who’s been diagnosed as being on the spectrum for autism? Have you noticed similar tendencies in your partner even though he is much higher functioning than your son or daughter? He/she may have Asperger’s syndrome.

In 2015, Asperger’s was estimated to affect 37.2 million people globally.  The incidence of Asperger’s is much higher than moderate to severe autism, but many people with mild Asperger’s remain undiagnosed. This developmental disorder falls on the mild or high-functioning end of the autism spectrum which is characterized by a group of conditions that include impaired communication and social interaction ability. Researchers have discovered that a good percentage of children on the autism spectrum have a parent or other relative with undiagnosed Asperger’s, so it seems that there is a strong relationship between genetics and autism/Asperger’s. Scientific debate goes on and research continues.

As I mentioned in earlier blogs, it has only been in the last 20 years or so that Asperger’s or mild autism has been formally recognized and acknowledged.  Because this is such a new diagnosis, many professionals are still in the dark about the syndrome—especially therapists.

While many affected individuals learn to compensate for their differences and can live independent and successful lives, the behavioral challenges associated with Asperger’s often lead to social isolation and difficulties at school, at work, and in personal relationships.

Most importantly, people with Asperger’s Syndrome lack the self-awareness that most of us have. Their ability to be aware, understand, and most of all explain their symptoms is diminished. Until they are diagnosed and/or educated, they usually aren’t able to connect the dots and are frustrated in their interactions with others.

Attributes of Asperger’s such as communication difficulties, lack of empathy, black and white thinking, resistance to change, and the tendency towards social isolation often send spouses and partners online to research what’s causing this behavior. It’s then that the possibility of Asperger’s is raised and the search for solutions begins.

As more and more people are identified as having Asperger’s, it is imperative that the therapist community learn about the syndrome and understand how to help both the person with the disorder and his/her partner and family deal it.