The Amazing Race Will Have Contestant with Asperger’s Syndrome


This season, CBS’s Emmy Award winning reality show, The Amazing Race, will introduce  a contestant with Asperger’s Syndrome. The 26 year old contestant, Zev Glassenberg, will be partnered with his longtime friend, Justin Kanew, 30.  Glassenberg told DisabilityScoop.com: “It’s one of my favorite shows and I thought it would be a really, really cool experience. It’s basically a scavenger hunt around the world and I like to do scavenger hunts, so why not do one around the world?”

Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder which is part of the Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD)– a group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in communication and social skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior. Individuals with AS are differentiated from others with autism in that they retain their early language  and cognitive skills, and tend to be less severely impaired than those with autism.

Like those with autism, those with AS tend to be socially awkward, have difficulty with changes in routine, have clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements, and engage in repetitive routines or rituals. The most distinguishing symptom of AS is an individual’s obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. They frequently have such expertise in this topic, and speak with such formal speech patterns, that they seem like little professors. Children with AS are isolated because of their poor social skills and narrow interests.

The cause of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome are unknown. There is no known “cure,” however much can be done to help these individuals. The ideal treatment for AS coordinates therapies that address the three core symptoms of the disorder:  poor communication skills, obsessive or repetitive routines,and physical clumsiness.  There is no single best treatment package for all children with AS, but most professionals agree that the earlier the intervention, the better.

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Mark Boguski, M.D., Ph.D. is on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and is a member of the Society for Participatory Medicine, "a movement in which networked patients shift from being mere passengers to responsible drivers of their health" and in which professional health care providers encourage "empowered patients" and value them as full partners in managing their health and wellness.

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