AUTISM

AUTISM

June 7, 2012

Husband a right old grump? it could be Asperger's: Thousands have it without realising

Asperger’s is a ‘high-functioning’ form of autism where sufferers often have very high IQs

Daily Mail | By ANNA MAGEE

When martial arts teacher Sandra Beale-Ellis discovered one of the children in her class had Asperger’s syndrome, she set out to discover more about the condition.

‘I’d seen the film Rain Man, but that was the extent of my knowledge about autism,’ says Sandra, 44, who lives in Herne Bay, Kent. ‘So I bought a book about Asperger’s to read up about it.’

Autism is a developmental disability causing difficulties with communication and relating to other people. 

Undiagnosed: Teacher Sandra Beale-Ellis was surprised to recognise some of the traits of Asperger's in her husband, Joe
Undiagnosed: Teacher Sandra Beale-Ellis was surprised to recognise some of the traits of Asperger's in her husband, Joe

Asperger’s is a ‘high-functioning’ form of the condition, where sufferers often have very high IQs.

Learning about its classic characteristics — social awkwardness, a love of detail and repetition, and a tendency for obsessions and collecting — Sandra was surprised  to recognise some of the traits in her husband, Joe, 50.

Baby born with rare condition, leaves him unable to smile, cry, blink or show any facial expression

Joe, who is the founder of Kent Karate Schools, a string of martial arts academies in Kent, owns hundreds of salt shakers he  has been collecting since he was ten, which sit in neat rows in their house. He is also obsessed with castles and runs an online tearoom review site.

Sandra grew more interested, and signed up for a postgraduate certificate in Asperger’s. That was when the lightbulb moment came.

Recognisable traits: The film Rain Man, pictured, was the extent of Sandra's knowledge about autism - until she realised her husband had it
Recognisable traits: The film Rain Man, pictured, was the extent of Sandra's knowledge about autism - until she realised her husband had it

‘One of my tutors said people with autism and Asperger’s often have sensitivity to light, touch, colour or taste,’ says Sandra.

1 in 50: The number of men who have some form of autism
‘Joe hates clothes against his skin and would strip off to his T-shirt and underwear the minute he got home, even in winter. He hates the colour red and bright lights. I’d always called them Joe-isms. Now I realised they were signs of Asperger’s.’

Joe was sceptical, but after two years of persuasion, he saw a psychologist and after a three-hour interview he was diagnosed with mild Asperger’s.