I know that many people are coming on to the Velvet Bulldozer site to find out more about Asperger’s syndrome and Autism generally. With kind permission of Autism West Midlands we reproduce the following:

Definition of Aspergers Syndrome...

Asperger Syndrome is sometimes referred to as able autism or high functioning autism. It includes people of average to high intelligence and is a part of the ‘Triad of Impairments’ that typifies autism. The Triad refers to the impairments of communication, social interaction and imagination.
People with Asperger Syndrome may have narrow interests and show inflexibility of thought and behaviour. However, their main problem is often in their apparent independence, which belies their social disability. Some can manage well in certain areas, whilst having unexpected gaps in ability in others, and the mismatch of intelligence and performance can easily lead to a misunderstanding of the person with Asperger Syndrome.
In some cases individuals are not diagnosed until adulthood and often have to cope without support or any understanding of the condition. This can lead to other problems, such as depression and anxiety.
Although individuals with Asperger Syndrome vary enormously in the way their condition affects them and in their ability to hide or overcome their problems, there are some common features.

What can help?

Lack of understanding causes many of the difficulties associated with Asperger Syndrome. Once the condition and its effects are understood, the individual can concentrate on overcoming the negative aspects and making the most of the positive. Qualities like honesty, reliability, determination and dedication are associated with the condition, and many people show talent in maths, music, computing, science and technology.


Getting the right type and amount of support is vital. Once problems occur, anxiety can overtake, issues are exaggerated and become much harder to deal with. Maximum support at the outset can be reduced as the individual gains confidence and experience.


Written or other visual information may be helpful for the individual to cope with possible change, and a structured environment may help to make events more understandable and predictable.


There needs to be regular monitoring of possible difficulties, to prevent anxiety. With the right support and a tolerant environment, people with Asperger Syndrome can develop their skills and be helped to find their own ways of adapting to society’s demands, making the most of their different way of viewing the world.

Common Features...

• Stilted speech, with repetitive use of phrases and topics of conversation limited to own interests.

• Inability to pick up on verbal clues and hints and to understand and use facial expression, body language or eye contact appropriately.

• Little insight into the unwritten rules of human relationships. May lack empathy with other people and appear rude, selfish or tactless. Seem to lack understanding of how people affect and influence each other.

• Social situations can cause extreme anxiety, linked to an awareness of being different and not fitting in, fear of failure, being misunderstood or not being able to understand what others expect.

• Change, especially unplanned change, is experienced as very stressful. Predictable, repetitive activities provide reassurance.

• High motivation and knowledge in own field of special interest, sometimes to the point of obsession.

• Good attention to detail but great difficulty in seeing ‘the bigger picture’ because this requires flexible and abstract thinking, which they find difficult.

• Difficulty in predicting the consequences of their actions and putting things into context.

• Difficulties with planning and time management, due to anxiety when working under pressure and a perfectionist streak.

• Poor spatial awareness, motor skills and co-ordination may also be associated.

Definition of Autism

You may hear several different names used to describe autism. These could include:

• Classic autism
• Kanner Syndrome
• High-functioning autism
• Able autism
• Atypical autism
• Asperger Syndrome
• Semantic Pragmatic Disorder (SPD)
• Autistic tendencies
• Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD)

Autistic Spectrum Disorder (a.s.d.) is an umbrella term often used to describe these conditions because it groups together all the different variations of this disorder. The idea of a spectrum is useful because it shows that people with a diagnosis of autism can range from having average or above average intelligence to having severe learning disabilities.

Some facts about autism:

• It is a ‘hidden disability’ because people with autism are usually no different in appearance from anyone else
• It is now believed to affect as many as 1 in 110 people
• It is at least 4 times more common in males than females
• It is a lifelong disability, but getting the right help and support from people who understand can really make a difference
• Nobody knows for certain what causes autism, but research points to a genetic link
• People with autism can be very sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells, touch or the sensations caused by what they see

The Triad of Impairments...

Autism affects the way a person relates to other people and this can cause confusion with social interaction. Because all people are different, the way autism affects them is also different. However, they all have difficulties in 3 main areas, often known as ‘The Triad of Impairments’.

CommunicationTalking and Understanding

Language difficulties range from no speech at all to fluent speech, often repetitive and mainly talking about their own areas of interest, rather than true conversation.
There is always difficulty in understanding spoken language, as well as the other clues to meaning in what we say e.g. body language, gesture, tone of voice, facial expression.

Social InteractionGetting on with other people

Difficulties range from indifference and aloofness to wanting desperately to make friends but not understanding social rules and other people’s behaviour and feelings well enough to do so successfully. Some people with autism have real difficulties with social situations.

ImaginationThinking and Behaviour

There may be deficits in imaginative and conceptual skills, and difficulties in making sense of the world. These lead to a rigid way of thinking and doing things, repetitive activity and narrow interests. Changes of routine cause anxiety and distress.


• Keep your own language simple
• Avoid ‘flowery’ phrases and abstract ideas
• Keep sentences short and to the point
• Speak slowly and clearly
• Use the person’s name to get their attention first
• Give time for the person with autism to process what you say and to respond

Visual Support

• Give visual clues, whenever possible, to aid understanding e.g. photos, picture symbols, objects of reference
• Mime and gesture may help get your meaning across


• Provide a clear structure to the day so s/he knows what to expect and when
• Keep to predictable routines
• Explain any changes in advance, if possible, to minimise anxiety

For further information please contact:

Information Team
autism.west midlands
18 Highfield Road
B15 3DU
Tel: (0121) 450 7575
Fax: (0121) 450 7581
Email: info@autismwestmidlands.org.uk




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