Diseases & Conditions


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Asperger's syndrome


Asperger's syndrome is one of a range of autism-like disorders which often manifests in "eccentric" behaviour rather than pronounced and obvious disability. It was first identified as a separate condition in 1944 by a German Doctor, Hans Asperger, who spotted similar, odd behaviours in more than one of his patients. The subtle characteristics which make up the condition often lead to it being missed by doctors who might spot the more noticeable deficits of other types of autism. There is no established link between Asperger syndrome and offending No form of autism is well understood by doctors, but there is a particular dearth of knowledge about Asperger's. However, experts say there is no known link between Asperger's and violent crime. Many individuals with Asperger's lead highly productive lives, in highly specialised fields such as academia. Nevertheless, their behaviour is often slightly abnormal - perhaps lacking social skills even if they are more socially aware and willing to interact than people with other kinds of autism. Often someone with Asperger's may be obsessed with complex topics such as music, history, or the weather, and have above average verbal skills. But in some cases, the voice appears to be flat and lacking in emotion, speech can be stilted and repetitive, and conversations tend to revolve around self rather than others. Many have dyslexia or writing problems - and can appear to lack common sense. Some more severe examples of Asperger's can be prone to depression or even aggression. 30,000 children There are estimated to be in the region of 30,000 UK children currently diagnosed as Asperger's sufferers. The diagnosis is extremely subjective, relying heavily on interpretation of behaviour patterns rather than any physical test. And there are few treatment regimens, although drugs such as Ritalin are suggested by many as a possibility, although its use is controversial. A spokesman for the National Autistic Society said: "There is no established link between Asperger syndrome and offending, nor is there any evidence to suggest that people with Asperger syndrome are more likely to break the law than anyone else in the general population. "It is extremely rare for people with Asperger syndrome to commit violent crimes. "On the other hand, there is concern that individuals with Asperger syndrome may themselves be more vulnerable to criminal acts against them by reason of their social difficulties."

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