Social Anxiety in Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome

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Social anxiety is described as a fear of interaction with other individual’s that brings on self-consciousness, fear of being judged negatively and evaluated or scrutinized by other people. The fears someone with social anxiety feels are very real and it results in the person avoiding interactions with others.

People with social anxiety will fear being judged as inferior or inadequate and it can be a big source of embarrassment and humiliation. This condition is markedly different in adults with Asperger’s Syndrome.

Asperger’s is a milder variation of Autism. Both Asperger’s and Autism are a bigger part of subgroups in large diagnostic category. The larger category of disorders is referred to as either, Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) or Autistic Spectrum Disorders.

Definition of Asperger’s Syndrome

The definition of Asperger’s is defined as an impairment of social interaction as it is manifested by two of the following criteria:
1.) A marked impairment in the use of non-verbal behaviors like eye contact, facial expressions, body posturing and gestures used in the regulation of social interactions.
2.) Failure to develop normal peer relationships in accordance with developmental level.
3.) Lack of reciprocity; either emotionally or socially.
4.) The individual does not seek out others to share enjoyment, interests or achievements.
5.) Becoming engrossed or preoccupied with one or more stereotypical or restricted patterns of interest that’s abnormal in focus or intensity.
6.) Repetitive motor mannerisms such as hand flapping/clapping or twisting, and/or complicated whole body movements.
7.) An inflexible attachment to specific non-functional routines or rituals
8.) Persistently being preoccupied with part of an object.

MDMA for Social Anxiety Treatment

Yes, you read it right. Scientists are currently testing whether MDMA, the active ingredient in Ecstasy, might help in the treatment of social anxiety in adults with autism. Researchers in the Los Angeles, California area are trying to see if MDMA will cause a reduction in fear of interacting with people. Researchers say this ingredient in Ecstasy causes a confidence boost, heightens bonding and increases the understanding of social cues. All of these things could help ease social anxiety in adults with autism.

The study’s co-investigator Alicia Danforth states, “That’s really hard for people to wrap their minds around. It’s not another quack treatment for autism.”
Scientists aren’t trying to find a “cure” for autism, but rather trying to collect data about how MDMA effects social anxiety in adults with the disorder.

The study is highly important because there are currently very few treatment options for adults who suffer from autism and have social anxiety. The MDMA being used in the study is safer than Ecstasy and Milly, because it is in pure form. The street drugs are usually contaminated and only about 20 percent of Ecstasy pills will actually contain MDMA.


The new study which has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration started more than a year ago, but recently gained attention through a Reddit post.

To find participants for the study, researchers rigorously screened autistic individuals. In order to qualify for the study, individual’s must have had two years of college courses and be over the age of 21, currently the team is still searching for more subjects.

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