Fact sheet on adults with Asperger's syndrome and their parenting abilities


Asperger's syndrome is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, and naturally there will be a variation of difficulties experienced by adults with Aspergers. Some may face chronic unemployment and emotional issues, while others may generally cope very well in a non-autistic world and succeed in work, family life and other hallmarks of 'normal' life.


A common problem for adults with Aspergers syndrome is not being diagnosed. They may struggle with relationships, work and life in general, without knowing why. As the awareness of Asperger's syndrome increases, more people are seeking a diagnosis in the adult stage of life. In most countries, there is a severe lack of support services for children on the autism spectrum, and there are even less supports for adults with Asperger's syndrome.


They also may be more vulnerable to poverty and homelessness than the general population, because of their difficulty finding (and keeping) employment, lack of proper education, premature social skills, and other factors.


Describing the triad of impairments

Asperger's syndrome is characterized by something known as the triad of impairments. This means that problems will be experienced to varying degrees with social communication, social understanding and imagination.


Social communication

Difficulties often crop up in the social aspects of communication. This can involve difficulty understanding gestures, body language and facial expressions of others. This difficulty in understanding the context of social interaction means adults on the autism spectrum may not be aware of what is socially appropriate, and htye have difficulty chatting or choosing topics to talk about. People with Asperger's syndrome may not be socially motivated because they find communication so difficult, so they may not have many friends and they may choose not to socialize very much.

Some of these problems can be seen in the way people with Aspergers syndrome present themselves. for example classic traits include difficulty making eye contact, anxiety in social situations, repetitive speech and difficulties expressing themselves especially when talking about emotions.


Social understanding

Adults with Aspergers syndrome may have difficulties in group situations. They might not choose appropriate topics to discuss, and find small talk and chatting very difficult. They may take what people say very literally and have problems understanding double meanings in teasing, irony and sarcasm.



This does not mean adults on the autism spectrum lack creative abilities, often the reverse is true. However, they may have trouble imagining alternative outcomes to given situations, and find it hard to predict what will happen next. This often leads to anxiety and can result in obsessions with rigid routines, and severe distress can arise if routines are disrupted. These difficulties with imagination may cause problems with making plans for the future, organizing one's life sequencing tasks. Some people with Aspergers syndrome over-compensate for this by being extremely meticulous in their planning, and having extensive written or mental checklists.


Influences of Aspergers syndrome on employment

Adults with Asperger's may find it difficult finding employment or entering undergraduate or graduate schools because of poor interview skills or a low score on standardized or personality tests. If they do become employed, they may be misunderstood, taken advantage of, paid less than those without Aspergers syndrome, and be subject to bullying and discrimination. Communication deficits may mean people at work have difficulty understanding the person with Aspergers syndrome, and problems with authority figures are common when difficult, tense relations with bosses and supervisors develop. They may focus on details so much and have such a high degree of perfection, that they cannot tolerate any shortcomings in other employees.


In some cases, the person may be highly intelligent and not be hampered by problems with socializing issues. Albert Einstein and Bill Gates of Microsoft are two well known examples of adults rumoured to have Asperger's syndrome. However, in other cases these adults can be extremely good at their jobs but do not promoted because they lack the interpersonal skills to be managers - they may be overly perfectionist, demanding and unable to create warm relationships with staff.


Influences of Aspergers syndrome on social interaction

People with Asperger’s syndrome often report a feeling of being unwillingly detached from the world around them. They may have difficulty finding a life partner or getting married due to poor social skills and poor financial status. In a similar fashion to school bullying, the person with Aspergers syndrome is vulnerable to problems in their neighborhood, such as anti-social behavior and harassment. Due to social isolation, they can be seen as the ‘black sheep’ in the community and thus may be at risk of wrongful suspicions and allegations from others.


One area of study in which more of such research is sorely needed concerns adults with Asperger’s syndrome who do marry and subsequently become parents. Adults with Aspergers syndrome who marry often find it difficult to stay married; some initial research puts the divorce rate at approximately eighty percent. The resulting split can be fraught with intense or “high” conflict or domestic violence.


Custody cases, already often difficult affairs, are complicated when one or both parties has Asperger syndrome.


Influences of Aspergers syndrome on parenting

It is argued that even with support, some parents with Asperger syndrome simply may not be up to the enormous task. Raising a psychologically healthy child involves complex emotional interaction between parent and child, as well as the ability to avoid parental behaviors damaging to a child's well-being. However it can be easily argued that many neurotypical parents have very poor parenting skills, and of course there are many parents on the autistic spectrum who have excellent parenting skills.


Some adults with Asperger's syndrome rightly point out that many parents experience parenting difficulties as parents without being on the autism spectrum and that 'aspies' should not be singled out as being unable to be effective parents. Asperger syndrome parents should certainly not, be stereotyped or categorized as evil, uncaring, or intentionally abusive. If Aspergers syndrome does affect a person's parenting skills, this would simply mean that appropriate support should be looked at, as it would be for a parent with anger management issues, depression or any other condition that could impact on their children's lives.


Click here if you are thinking about obtaining a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome.
Click here to read personal stories by adults with Asperger's syndrome.


Click this button to close this Aspergers information fact sheet

Click here to go to the home page to view the full range of autism fact sheets at www.autism-help.org
This autism fact sheet is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation. It is derivative of an autism-related articles at http://en.wikipedia.org

There are disputes over the capabilities of parents with Aspergers syndrome