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* There are likely many older people who meet the criteria for AS but were never diagnosed. Older people with undiagnosed Aspergers syndrome (AS) may be receiving inappropriate treatments.
* Study profiles how AS presents in old age, the challenges of assessment and the tools required to evaluate older people, and the implications for clinical practice.
Many older people who may have Aspergers syndrome (AS) have not received the diagnosis because criteria for the disorder were only established in 1994. The study, "Diagnosing Aspergers syndrome in the elderly: A series of case presentations," published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, makes the case that people with AS may be misdiagnosed with other psychiatric disorders.
The case studies found that even people with AS who showed major interpersonal problems were still able to live relatively successful lives. The majority had families and retained full employment. This led the authors to ask what kinds of relationships and forms of employment best suited people with AS. A better understanding of this would help people with AS cope better in the community.
Dania Jekel, executive director of the Asperger's Association of New England (AANE), said that people with AS tend to do better if they are married, and have a spouse who can handle an executive function role, particularly for a household.
Properly diagnosing older people with AS is critically important to ensure that they do not receive an inappropriate intervention.
AS falls under the category of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). AS shares many features with classic autism, such as difficulties forming and maintaining relationships, problems communicating, a lack of imagination, and difficulty coping with change.
Many undiagnosed cases reside among older people, who grew up prior to the …