Asperger’s syndrome and empathy


Sir, – Des McKernan of the Asperger Syndrome Association of Ireland says of those who have Asperger’s  syndrome: “They can’t put their feet in the shoes of other people and understand where they are coming from” (Sheila Wayman, Health + Family, November 5 th). He suggests those who have Asperger’s often bore neurotypical people by droning on for hours about trains.

It is most regrettable that someone involved with an association which is meant to support those who have Asperger’s should have given your paper such an absurd and offensive caricature of the characteristics of the syndrome.

I was diagnosed as having Asperger’s seven years ago. I hope that I try to understand other people. I know it is hard for me to express such an understanding – though it is easier for me at least to do so in writing than it is orally; I hope that I am not untypical of those who have the syndrome in this respect. We are not all consumed by a monomaniacal interest in trains; I know that I am not. Many of us have other interests; not a few among us even have a wide range of such interests.

I am sure I am not alone among those who have Asperger’s in having experienced a lack of understanding among some neurotypical people in the difficulties I experience in coping with life. It is a pity Mr McKernan appears to display that lack of understanding himself. – Yours, etc,


Donegall Road,