Apathy in Aspergers Syndrome

Did you know that apathy was a symptom of Aspergers Syndrome? It is not always seen or even connected, but there is a very real link between an individual with Aspergers Syndrome experiencing stress, and there suddenly being a response of severe apathy. Some have likened it to feeling stuck in a vat of sinking sand and not being able to move their feet to get out.

    • Apathy may be seen in the adult who simply cannot get out of bed to get ready for work. It is also noticed in the school aged child who does not cooperate with a parent to get ready for school. Eating, toileting, and various other tasks that would normally only take a fraction of an hour suddenly turn into tasks that span the better portion of the walking hours.

    • Apathy happens at work or in school. The individual with Aspergers Syndrome requires a sudden burst of micromanagement to stay on task and even then she or he has a hard time remembering what it is that was supposed to be accomplished. At the same time, supervisors and teachers are thoroughly frustrated at what they might consider a lack of respect, attention, and also obedience.

    • Apathy is marked by a sudden inability to communicate adequately. It is not that the individual with Aspergers Syndrome loses his words, it is more a matter of not being able to find that in which is required to initiate a two sided form of communication. Children do not properly communicate their needs to teachers, leading up to disciplinary measures and even exclusion from certain tasks and planned activities. In the adult setting, this might lead to an employee being put on administrative leave, receiving a write up, or actually being dismissed from the work they are currently assigned to do.

In the home, family members notice this apathy as a way of spacing out. The individual with Aspergers Syndrome suddenly seems to have retreated into his own little world and it is hard to reach her or him.

Source of Frustration

No amount of verbal sparring seems to be able to counteract this sudden apathy that descended on the individual and onlookers get quite frustrated at the lack of response. In some cases this may lead to harsh words, which do little other than make the patient with AS withdraw even further.

Physicians have theorized that it is a certain form of disconnect between knowing what needs to be done and visualizing the activity necessary to get there that causes the apathy. Adding to this kind of disconnect is the fact that outward pressures on the Aspergers Syndrome patients lead to a further shutdown.

At this time it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy that renders the patient virtually incapable of acting until the spell is broken. As frustrating as it is to the onlooker and family member, apathy of this kind is even worse to the individual who is experiencing it and who feels powerless to overcome the condition and move on with the tasks at hand.

See Also: About Dr. Asperger