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Coming from a family, with several successful Aspies, I have put a fair amount of study into the subject ("putting a fair amount of study," to an Aspie, would probably qualify as "a lot of study," to a normal person).

1. Aspies are able to communicate (talk and write) with other people. This distinguishes them from many others, on the autism spectrum, many of whom can't communicate.

2. Aspies lack the ability to read others' body language and facial expressions (to a varying degree).

3. Aspies often become deeply interested in unusual subjects. When they begin to talk about their subject of interest, they don't know when to stop -- because they can't read the body language that would tell them that the other person is getting tired of the subject.

Here is some information, about Asperger's syndrome.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger's_syndrome

"Although there is no single feature that all people with AS share, difficulties with social behavior are nearly universal and are one of the most important defining criteria. People with AS lack the natural ability to see the subtexts of social interaction (e.g., resulting in well-meaning remarks that may offend, or finding it hard to know what is "acceptable") and may lack the ability to communicate their own emotional state. The unwritten rules of social behavior that mystify so many with AS have been termed "The Hidden Curriculum".[15] People with AS must learn these social skills intellectually rather than intuitively.[16]
Non-autistics are able to gather information about other people's cognitive and emotional states based on clues gleaned from the environment and other people's facial expression and body language, but, in this respect, people with AS are impaired; this is sometimes called mind-blindness.[17] Mind-blindness involves an impaired ability to: read others' feelings, understand intended meanings, gauge level of interest in a conversation, take into account others' level of knowledge and predict someone's reaction to a comment or action.[18]..."

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/aspergerssyndrome.html

http://www.udel.edu/bkirby/asperger/aswhatisit.html

http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Aspergers

http://www.aspergers.com/

http://health.yahoo.com/ency/healthwise/zq1008/zq1010;_ylt=A9htdWO0JAVEGlQBQS_ogrMF


The following article is about a separate condition, called "face blindness." The inability to recognize faces is different from the inability to recognize the emotions expressed by faces. A person who has this condition, in addition to Asperger's, would face a double whammy.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/18/health/psychology/18face.html
http://www.neurology.org/cgi/content/full/65/10/E20

Asperger's Syndrome is classified as a "Pervasive Developmental Defect." This sounds really terrible. However, it's really not that terrible. In fact, Asperger's Syndrome has both benefits and drawbacks.

Having Asperger's Syndrome allows the Aspie to focus and concentrate, to a degree that would be almost impossible, for a normal person. Many scientists and engineers are Aspies, to a greater or lesser degree. An Aspie might wonder why so many people are unfocused, and spend so much time on unproductive gossip, when there is work to be done.

I would contend that Aspies have done more real, tangible good for humanity than many other, supposedly normal, beneficial groups (I don't want to start another firestorm about the humanities, but...).

If you read "The Discoverers," by Daniel Boorstein, you will discover many obvious Aspies. Who else would measure every bit of food and water, and all excreta, for years on end (as did the discoverer of metabolism)? Who else would work on clocks, for decades at a time, as did John Harrison, the inventor of the portable chronometer? The examples are endless. These were not social butterflies -- they focused, with laser-like intensity, on their special field of interest. I'm sure that many important inventors were Aspies.

Given sufficient motivation (for example, by interest in the opposite sex, or by scientific evidence that life expectancy is prolonged by social interaction), Aspies can be motivated to study the social graces, body language, etc. Aspies are often compulsively honest, and are very nice, productive people (if you can learn to tolerate their strangeness). Aspies can also learn to be much less strange, if well-motivated.

One article states, "Many people with Asperger's syndrome marry and have children." Indeed, they do. Why not? In my family, Asperger's breeds true, leading to at least 3 successive generations of honest, studious, upstanding, successful Aspies...who will be delighted to bore you to death, on any subject we are interested in :-).

Wendy

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