Note for various reasons the psycological community decided to remove the term Aspergers.  I use the term because I only work with people who are high functioning.

A good thing to do is to define terms so everyone knows what you are talking about.  Aspergers is a form of Autism or on the autism SPECTRUM.  A spectrum means that there is a wide difference (like a rainbow). The lowest functioning person I met who qualified as aspergers, was someone who didn’t communicate much, he didn’t know so many social norms that a person needs when relating to other people.  I also have a cousin who has Autsim he doesn’t grasp much of what is going on in this world from what I saw.

Myself on the other hand, and a few other people I know who have aspergers can be seen as pretty normal (which for those people is about where they are).  Aspergers is also known as a SYNDROME, this means that it is defined by a series of symptoms or signs.  This is important as each person can vary in how it shows up at varying levels.  It is a life long disability which affects how a person makes sense of the world, proccess information, and relates to other people.

Aspergers affects a person in three main ways:

Social Communication:

  • have difficulty understanding gestures, facial expressions or tone of voice
  • have difficulty knowing when to start or end a conversation and choosing topics to talk about
  • use complex words or phrases but may not fully understand what they mean
  • be very literal in what they say and can have difficulty understanding jokes, metaphor and sarcasm. For example, a person with Asperger syndrome may be confused by the phrase ‘That’s cool’ when people use it to say something is good.

Social Imagination:

  • imagining alternative outcomes to situations and finding it hard to predict what will happen next
  • understanding or interpreting other people’s thoughts, feelings or actions. The subtle messages that are put across by facial expression and body language are often missed
  • having a limited range of imaginative activities, which can be pursued rigidly and repetitively, eg lining up toys or collecting and organising things related to his or her interest.

Social interaction (the big one for me)

  • struggle to make and maintain friendships
  • not understand the unwritten ‘social rules’ that most of us pick up without thinking. For example, they may stand too close to another person, or start an inappropriate topic of conversation
  • find other people unpredictable and confusing
  • become withdrawn and seem uninterested in other people, appearing almost aloof
  • behave in what may seem an inappropriate manner.

There are other things people with aspergers have in common.  This includes a love of routines.  I had one person who would ask me at least 10 times to go over the schedule of places we would go during our time together (and he was the one who decided it).

Also being very interested in a special intrest which we can easily become an expert in.   An example from me was that when I started becoming religous I didn’t find it that diffucult spending my whole day learning torah (besides my college work) and that was without anyone saying to do that (and not so many oppurtunities of Torah learning oppurtunities.

Sensory diffuculties is yet another thing that people with aspergers can struggle with.  This is where someone with aspergers could feel too much or too little of something (sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste (and even being around so many people).  They could be over or under sensitive.  Those who have this could feel pain or anxity being around bright lights, loud noises, certain materials, food textures, or being around so many people.

Now that I have defined what Aspergers is my future Times of Israel post can start to make more sense.