Asperger's syndrome is usually seen as a form of autism. It is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. Autism is often described as a 'spectrum disorder' because the condition affects people in many different ways and to varying degrees. While there are similarities with autism, people who have Asperger's Syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average, or above average, intelligence. While a high level of competence in communication is usually seen, there are usually "out of focus" skills, especially dealing with abstract and social concepts. They do not usually have the learning disabilities which are often associated with "classical" autism, but they usually have specific learning difficulties or information processing differences and may exhibit characteristics of dyslexia, dyspraxia or other conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD).
Although Asperger's Syndrome is likely to have been present throughout life it does not always become apparent until later, often being recognised in adults. Late diagnosis often re-interprets overlooked symptoms from childhood.
To try and make the world less confusing, people who have Asperger's Syndrome may have rules and rituals, or eccentric ways of doing things, which they insist upon. They may develop an intense, sometimes obsessive, interest in a hobby or collecting. Sometimes these interests are lifelong; in other cases, one interest is completely replaced by an unconnected interest. People with Asperger's Syndrome may also have sensory difficulties affecting one or all of the senses (sight, sound, smell, touch, or taste). The degree of difficulty varies from one individual to another.