I get a lot of mail from people who think they or someone else has Aspergers (also known as high-functioning autism or pervasive development disorder). One of my first posts was on Asperger's Syndrome, but I also started a category to hold other Aspergers-related posts.
I wrote this questions and answers post so that in the future I can just direct people to it whenever I get mail. I will continually expand on this post over time.
What is Asperger's Syndrome?
To be honest, I am not really convinced that it is a disorder, maybe perhaps a clinical description of nerdiness. I wondered sometimes if Asperger's Syndrome is the result of a breakdown in social interaction, which is why it's prevalent in nerds. Anything in a child's appearance or behavior (intelligence, unattractive appearance, poor hygiene, wrong race) that repels other children from socially interacting with him slows down the child's social development, but, at the same time, may deepen his intellectual development with more time for books and experiments. I know that I didn't fit in, because I was a late talker speaking the wrong language and also a member of the wrong race.
The best analogy I can think of is with feral children, children raised in the care of animals. These children learn to behave and live like the animals, but they typically lose the ability to acquire language after the age of five, rendering them ineffective in communicating with other humans; however, they would more likely than other people be able to survive in the wild.
Nerdy men don't have much social interaction and thus develop the ability to be alone, think independently and have more time to study, but they do often lose out in corporate politics and the social scene. Likewise, attractive women are in danger of being caught up in their own "feral" environment with other social bunnies (and single-minded male friends that promise to care for their every needs) and, thereby, stunting their own intellectual growth and self-sufficiency as can be seen in these gameshow videos  .
On the other hand, there is a lot of evidence suggesting Asperger's really is a form of autism. I have been known to rock often when I was younger; I am not sure why, maybe because it helped me concentrate. Bill Gates frequently rocks like in this antitrust video. Time also has an article drawing parallels between Gates and autistic children.
Is Asperger's Syndrome a Disease?
If the consequence of a disease is that people become smarter and actually very productive in society at the expense of optimal social interaction, is it really a disease? "Normal" people would like to think so, but many "geniuses" such as Isaac Newton and Bill Gates throughout history have been thought to have Asperger's, so this syndrome may actually be desirable. Is being "normal" while practicing mysticism and behaving irrationally to be preferred?
One reader, who has AS and also a PhD in mathematics, suspects that the field of psychology is still in its infancy with fraudulent and unscientific claims, not backed by evidence. His psychologist diagnosed him with AS after an hour long conversation with no other tests. The reader states at one time, homesexuality was determined to be a mental disease by majority vote and, therefore, could be as justification to force electroshock and hormonal treatments as happened to Alan Turing. Later, by majority vote, homosexuality was declared not to be a disease. With regard to Asperger Syndrome's, there is also scant evidence of its relation to autism and little understanding of how the brain works in both Asperger's and autism cases.
Another reader mentioned Aspies for Freedom (www.aspiesforfreedom.org), a civil rights organization that is dedicated to having the voices of autistics heard. Autistics, he says, are routinely murdered around the world, are required to be reported in some states, may be treated with aversives (electric shocks, sensory deprivation, pinching, etc). He mentions a cure movement for autism just as there was for downs syndrome, which has led 90% of downs fetuses being aborted. This reminds me of an earlier MSNBC article "Would you have allowed Bill Gates to be born" that talks about prenatal genetic testing and abortion.
Here's what to do if you think...
...I may have Asperger's.
There is a site called OASIS "Online Asperger Syndrome Information and Support." There's also numerous other sites that can be found on the Google search results for Asperger's Syndrome.
Mark Segar wrote an insightful guide "Coping: A Survival Guide For People with Asperger Syndrome." The link is unstable, so I have include a few more:    There is also a wikibook version called "a survival guide for people on the autistic spectrum. Mark personally believes that "'Autistic people have to understand scientifically what non autistic people already understand instinctively."
Daniel has a blog dedicated to Asperger's.
...my child has Asperger's.
There is a book by OASIS called, "The OASIS Guide to Asperger Syndrome: Completely Revised and Updated: Advice, Support, Insight, and Inspiration," that mostly deals with children. Here's the table of contents:
PART ONE: Asperger Syndrome
Chapter 1: What Is Asperger Syndrome?
Chapter 2: What Asperger Syndrome Looks Like
Chapter 3: How Asperger Syndrome Is Diagnosed
PART TWO: Taking Control
Chapter 4: Can This Be My Child?
Chapter 5: Building the Foundation for Success
Chapter 6: Interventions and Therapies
Chapter 7: Medication
Chapter 8: Special Education Basics
PART THREE: The Whole Child
Chapter 9: Your Child's Emotional Life
Chapter 10: Your Child in the Social Realm
Chapter 11: Your Child in School
Chapter 12: Growing Up
... my boyfriend may have Asperger's.
Apparently, you are attracted to men with Asperger's Syndrome. Email me your photo, and I will let you know if should dump your current boyfriend and go with a better option.
... I am a woman with Asperger's.
Send me your photo, and I will let you know if there is a boyfriend out there for you.
The incidence of Asperger's in women is an order of magnitude lower in women than in men, but I have been contacted by a few rare women such as Megan, who started an online comic strip about Asperger's Syndrome.
Do Autistic Savants Really Exist?
I used to think not in many of my earlier posts, but some readers got offended, so some of the posts that I have written may not actually exist anymore. Many of the date and math tricks and other memorization feats are actually easy to perform.
There are some experiments that showed that normal people can be temporarily made autistic by connecting an electrode to their head. When they electrode is turned on, they have been able to quickly and accurately calculate the number of several dozen jelly beans on a table, a feat which they were unable to repeat when the electrode was off.
The explanation was that when the electrode was turned on, natural connections between neurons were disabled, thereby inhibiting the brain's natural tendency to cluster objects together. When the objects are not cluster, it becomes easier to see the beens as discrete objects that can be easily counted. In autistic people, the connections between many neurons are always off.
The loss of clustering ability means that autistic people cannot easily make sense of chaotic events. They miss the big picture and are perpetually attempting to systematize the world in order to compensate for this--a valuable trait for the budding scientist.
This is supposedly why autistic savants are sometimes able to memorize great detail like this artist who recreated Rome from memory.