On Saturday night, Elon Musk revealed that he has Asperger's Syndrome, a developmental disorder in the autism spectrum disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health. "I'm actually making history tonight as the first person with Asperger's to host SNL. Or at least the first person to admit it," Musk joked during his opening monologue. Per the NIH, Asperger's, abbreviated AS, is characterized by "a distinct group of neurological conditions." It was added to the American Psychiatric Association's official diagnostic manual in 1994, and impacts around one in 300 people, almost 90 percent male. Read on to learn about the signs that someone may present if they have Asperger's—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You Have "Long" COVID and Don't Know It.
Per the NIH, the most distinguishing symptom of AS is a child's obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. "Children with AS want to know everything about their topic of interest and their conversations with others will be about little else," they explain. "Their expertise, high level of vocabulary, and formal speech patterns make them seem like little professors."
Repetitive Routines or Rituals
People with AS can have routines "that resemble obsessive-compulsive behavior," per Harvard Health. "They are easily upset when their expectations are not met or their routines disturbed; for example, they may want to wear the same clothes and follow the same rigid schedule every day."
Peculiarities in Speech and Language
The NIH reveals that people with Asperger's may communicate in a unique manner. "I don't always have a lot of intonation or variation in how I speak, which I'm told makes for great comedy," Musk said during SNL. The Autism Society explains that children with Asperger's Disorder frequently have good language skills, but use language in different ways. "Speech patterns may be unusual, lack inflection or have a rhythmic nature, or may be formal, but too loud or high-pitched," they say. "Children with Asperger's Disorder may not understand the subtleties of language, such as irony and humor, or they may not understand the give-and-take nature of a conversation."
Socially and Emotionally Inappropriate Behaviors
"Look, I know I sometimes say or post strange things, but that's just how my brain works," Musk revealed during SNL. Per the Autism Society, people with AS may be socially awkward, not understand conventional social rules or show a lack of empathy.
Inability to Interact Successfully with Peers
Because of their "poor social skills" and "narrow interests" children with AS may struggle to connect with their peers. "They may approach other people, but make normal conversation impossible by inappropriate or eccentric behavior, or by wanting only to talk about their singular interest," explains the NIH.
Problems with Non-Verbal Communications
While they can interact verbally, people with AS may struggle with non-verbal communication. "They may have limited eye contact, seem unengaged in a conversation and not understand the use of gestures or sarcasm," explains the Autism Society.
Clumsy and Uncoordinated Motor Movements
Per the NIH, children with AS may experience developmental delays in motor skills such as pedaling a bike, catching a ball, or climbing outdoor play equipment. "They are often awkward and poorly coordinated with a walk that can appear either stilted or bouncy," they explain. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.