This a letter that I had published by two different newspapers:
Feb. 28 The Ledger of Lakeland
March 7 The Tampa Tribune
One of our governor's legislative concerns deal with the disabled-whether physically, emotionally, or mentally. One specific disability that has been sorely neglected is Asperger's syndrome(AS).
Asperger's is a congenital neurobiological disorder affecting 0.25% of the population. The syndrome includes autistic-like behavior and marked deficiencies in social and communication skills. AS individuals are of average to above average intelligence, some with unusual gifts and creativity. As a diagnosis, it has been known in Europe since the 1940's, but has only been included in our medical diagnostic manuals since the 1994. Thus unfortunately many adults and children remain undiagnosed.
People with AS tend to be regarded as mentally retarded or eccentric misfits. Because of their inability to comprehend basic social cues, AS individuals do not form friendships or romantic relationships, have difficulty getting jobs, and remain in social isolation much of their lives. It is estimated that between 65-95% of AS people remain underemployed or unemployed throughout their lives. They remain dependent on family or government assistance, despite their stored desire to become productive citizens and live normal lives. This represents avoidable individual suffering and a tremendous waste of societal potential.
It is imperative that people with AS receive the help they need-with communication skills training, employment, and independent living. Key players in society need to become informed about this little-known but devastating disorder. Jeb Bush has proposed a 60% boost in spending for the developmentally disabled. It is time some of the funds help people suffering from Asperger's Syndrome.