The Road Ahead : December 2011
WWW.ROADAHEAD.COM.AU THE ROAD AHEAD DEC 2011/JAN 2012 18 attitude and knowledge the key It is important to understand that Asperger's Syndrome is not a disability; quite the opposite in fact. IT'S A CONDITION widely publicised as affecting children, however it might surprise you to know that Asperger's Syndrome (AS) affects just as many adults across Queensland. And it's not just children with AS who grow up into adults with AS. There are many adults with the condition who are only just discovering the reason they are 'different'. Children and adults with AS have an intellectual capacity within the normal range, but may have impaired social and communication skills, a preference for routine and consistency, problems with handwriting and be hypersensitive to specific auditory and tactile experiences. People with AS simply have a different, not defective, way of thinking, according to Dr Michelle Garnett, clinical director of Brisbane's Minds and Hearts: A Specialist Clinic For Asperger's Syndrome and Autism. "People with the condition have qualities that are very appealing, however the problem is that those qualities aren't widely accepted," she said. People with AS have a strong desire to seek knowledge, truth and perfection. To them it's more important to solve a problem rather than satisfy the social or emotional needs of others, and they value being creative rather than cooperative. People with AS have difficulty with the management and expression of emotions and may actively seek and enjoy solitude. Statistically, the ratio of adult females to adult males with AS is one in four, however that ratio drops to about one in three at the Minds and Hearts clinic. Dr Garnett said the best two interventions to Asperger's Syndrome are attitude and knowledge. It's not about finding a cure, but developing understanding between those with AS and those without. "We like to think of it as a kind of cultural exchange program," Dr Garnett said. Initially people may be offended by the suggestion they have AS, but once they understand that it's not a mental disability, they come to appreciate that their brain is just wired differently. "If you ask an 'Aspi' what the worst thing about their condition is they'd probably say the sensory issues are most problematic; they wouldn't want to change their personalities," Dr Garnett said. www.mindsandhearts.net STORY DEB ECCLESTON GET CONNECTED In her book Connecting with Your Asperger Partner, Brisbane author Louise Weston shares some communication tips for people with AS partners: • Listen attentively • Give one request at a time • Allow extra time to respond to instructions and questions • Give plenty of warning prior to social activities • Try to understand that your partner sees the world differently to you. louiseweston.com.au LIFESTYLE WELLBEING INSET: LOUISE WESTON AND HUSBAND GRAHAM.
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