Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Changing Minds through Neuroscience Inspired Fashion

Asperger's Syndrome

Asperger's syndrome is an autism spectrum disorder that impacts on the individual's ability to communicate and socialise. Asperger's syndrome was named after Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger, who first described the disorder in 1944. However, the syndrome was not recognized as a unique disorder until later on. The exact cause is unknown. Although research suggests the likelihood of a genetic basis, there is no known genetic etiology and brain imaging techniques have not identified a clear common pathology. As Asperger's syndrome is a wide spectrum disorder, not all people have the same symptoms; they vary enormously from person-to-person. Below are some of the most common signs and symptoms:

- Obsessive interests

Some children with Asperger's syndrome have become experts in a single object or topic. This often excludes any other subject. Some are exceptionally knowledgeable in their chosen field of interest. The topic of conversation with others will focus on their special interest. They can talk incessantly about it however with no apparent point or conclusion.

- Formal and/or distinct speech

Speech may be marked by a lack of rhythm or odd intonations. It may sound very monotonous, flat or unusually fast. Children with Asperger's syndrome often lack the ability to modulate the volume or pitch of their voice to match their surroundings.

- Routines

In an effort to lessen confusion, people with Asperger's syndrome may have rules and rituals which they methodically maintain. They are anxious and upset if there is a disruption to their set of patterns.

- Social isolation.

Adults and children with Asperger's syndrome are often isolated because of their poor social skills and narrow interests. They can become withdrawn and seem uninterested in other people, appearing distant or aloof. Normal conversation may be challenging, because of inappropriate and/or odd behaviour. There is a tendency to only talk about their singular interest. Making friends, as well as keeping them is often a problem.

- Imagination.

People with this syndrome can have difficulty with social imagination. They may have trouble imagining alternative outcomes to situations. Make-believe games may seem pointless, impossible to do, or ridiculous. Topics based on logic, memory and systems are more interesting (mathematics, computer science and music). Many children with Asperger's syndrome are exceptionally talented or skilled in those particular areas.

People with Asperger's syndrome have the same life expectancy as in the general population, and are no more or less susceptible to diseases or infections as others. The likelihood of developing depression later on in life is higher for those with Asperger's syndrome, but this is probably a consequence of years of living with the stresses and anxieties that come with coping with life in a "non-Asperger's syndrome" world.

Changing Minds through Neuroscience Inspired Fashion

A collaboration between Winchester School of Art (WSA) and the Southampton Neuroscience Group (SoNG) was established with an aim to address the stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental health. 

Each year the starting point for the project is a visit from SoNG members to Winchester School of Art to talk about our research which spans synaptic function, neurodegeneration and cognitive neuroscience. The importance of this basic research to neurological and psychiatric conditions is discussed and then some suggestions are made for topics that the students might like to consider as the design concept for their garment. A very important aspect of the project is that the design is carefully thought through in terms of the underlying neurobiology and the impact of the disease.  To help with this the students visit the research labs and have the chance to discuss their ideas further with SoNG postdoctoral fellows and postgraduates.

This project has provided a stimulating, engaging and creative way to engage in conversations about mental health issues.

Designer: Dayze Steward

"Asperger's Syndrome is a commonly misunderstood and misdiagnosed form of Autism. The idea behind the design is to show the complex connections in the brain during regular thought processes of someone with this syndrome, also to illustrate that within these processes the mind would over think things and something simple would then be twisted into something elaborate. Finally the print itself is intended to demonstrate the intricate interpretations and obsessive interests of an individual with Asperger Syndrome; therefore creating an understanding and awareness of the syndrome itself."

Supported by the University of Southampton Multidisciplinary Research Strategy

Southampton Neuroscience Group
Southampton Neuroscience Group
Winchester School of Art
Winchester School of Art
Garment designed by Dayze Steward
Garment designed by Dayze Steward
Designed by Dayze Steward (2
Designed by Dayze Steward (2)
Privacy Settings