Although Asperger’s Syndrome was first identified by Hans Asperger in 1944 it was not officially diagnosed until the 1980’s. Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and Autism share diagnostic features, although the degree of severity of these features might vary. For example, individuals diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome appear to have no difficulty in verbally expressing themselves, but do show some communication difficulties mainly related to the understanding of non-verbal communication cues (i.e. body language, facial expressions).
Social interaction is the area that individuals appear to struggle with most. There is a difficulty in making sense of social rules and boundaries. As a result, people with AS find it difficult to form friendships and relationships, which can sometimes lead to isolation. Difficulties with imagination involve problems with planning and organisation, to the extent that some individuals might find it difficult to carry out everyday tasks.
As opposed to autism, the majority of individuals diagnosed with AS show little or no intellectual disability. Because of this, and also because of no obvious language difficulties, it is difficult to diagnose early; therefore many individuals receive a diagnosis later in life. Women in particular are being missed; statistics indicate that for every ten males diagnosed only one female will receive a diagnosis. A possible reason for this is that women are better at masking their difficulties by way of mimicking social skills. In addition, their areas of obsessive interest may be seen as being more in line with girls’ general interests: e.g. an interest in ponies, soap operas and dolls.