The Geek Syndrome
Michael sat in the driver side of his white two door Chevy pick-up truck as we drove a grueling three hour drive to my aunt’s house for an early Christmas family get together. I begged him to take the interstate since it was faster, but for some reason he seemed uncomfortable with the idea, so the rocky country roads it was for the next three hours. I had my iPod headphones in one ear and barely listening to Michael ramble on with the other ear. He was critiquing some new Steven Spielberg movie that he had seen the other day. According to him the storyline was great but the graphics were not up to par compared to other Spielberg movies. I just nod my head as I was too into my music. Sooner or later he catches me off guard asking me what my favorite movie was directed by Steven Spielberg. My best guess was Star Wars. For all I know, the guy could be dead. I direct the conversation to another area of interest that he had, the Bulls. I could somewhat converse with him since I occasionally watched basketball, but I hardly got a word in and just let him ramble on once more as I got lost in my music again. Weeks before, my parents told me that Michael had a social disorder. That car ride to my aunt’s house opened my eyes to his disorder. Michael is my brother and is labeled with the ‘Geek Syndrome’, AKA Asperger’s Syndrome.
The etiology of Asperger’s Syndrome has been a controversial debate over the years. It is estimated that every one in 100 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and every one in 400 children are diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (Stoppler, 2012). The increase in diagnosis of the mental disorder has led to a demand for more answers as to what exactly causes the disorder. Asperger’s Syndrome is considered an ASD so it can be assumed that the causes of Asperger’s are similar to those of autism. Autism has been found to run in families which would lead experts to believe that the cause would have to do with genetics and DNA, but no single gene has been found that has significant evidence of the disorder (Stoppler, 2012). For a long time, immunizations at such a young age were thought to be a cause of autism. It shows no evidence and experts have thrown out this misconception (Currenti, 2010). Currenti, a researcher for the Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering, has found may environmental factors that may be contributing to the rise in autism, one being a vitamin deficiency. “Genetic polymorphisms of cytochrome P450 enzymes have also been linked to autism, specifically CYP27B1 that is essential for proper vitamin D metabolism. Vitamin D is important for neuronal growth and neurodevelopment, and defects in metabolism or deficiency have been implicated in autistic individuals” (Currenti, 2010). Other factors that have been deliberated and investigated are: maternally derived antibodies, maternal infection, exposure to metal, folic acid supplementation, epigenetics, measles, mumps, and electromagnetic radiation (Currenti, 2010). Future investigation is being conducted to find answers to autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. While the causes of Asperger’s Syndrome maybe thought to be similar to those of autism, the symptoms vary a little bit more. According to the DSM IV, Autism has delays or abnormal functioning with onset before the age of three in social interactions, language usage in socialization, and symbolic or imaginative play (Stoppler, 2012). Asperger’s is considered an Autism Spectrum Disorder because of the inability to socialize normally (Renee Alli, 2012). Although, people with Asperger’s have no general delay in their speech or in cognitive development such as people with autism (Stoppler, 2012). Symptoms can vary in severity. Children diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome tend to be socially awkward and avoid eye contact with people that they do not know very well. The lack of social skills makes