Daantjie knew from a young age that he was not like his friends, but it was only later in life that he understood why he was different. When he was young, not much was known about the condition with which he would later be diagnosed.
He told how he was treated by psychiatrists from the age of 10 until he finished school. At first, he found it difficult to make friends, although most of the friends he did have were loyal. His school years were difficult because he was aware that he was different. He later became famous as the winner of the 24thseries of Noot vir Noot and Flinkdink on SABC2.
Daantjie has Asperger's syndrome, the topic of last night's episode of kykNET's mental health programme ‘n Lewe met...
Like Daantjie, Jonathan Hartman also has Asperger's syndrome. He was diagnosed at a young age by Dr Paul de Wet (also a guest in the studio). Jonathan struggled to cope socially and at the age of 11 his parents were told that he was unfit for further formal education.
His mother refused to accept this verdict and decided to enrol him at a special school. Here, he accidentally ended up in a maths class for older learners one day and solved a maths problem that was supposed to be far above his capabilities. That's when his mother realised that Jonathan had a unique talent for maths and science. Since then, he has attained a B.Sc. degree in Physics as well as an honours and master's degree cum laude from the University of Johannesburg, and is currently doing his doctorate. He is also employed full-time as a researcher at the university.
More about Asperger's syndrome
This syndrome shows similarities to the classic symptoms of autism, namely low levels of communication and social interaction, as well as stereotypical and repetitive behaviour. However, the level of disability is not quite as severe in Asperger's syndrome as in other conditions in the autism spectrum.
Despite their normal and sometimes very gifted intelligence levels, people with Asperger's syndrome find it difficult to learn acceptable social behaviour. This often causes them to be grumpy or tactless, and they do not make friends easily. They are also sometimes unable to grasp an idea, keep a secret or understand metaphors, irony or humour.
Their own non-verbal communication forms are often inappropriate and they may find it difficult to express themselves. People who are living with Asperger's syndrome have a very restricted personal space, they speak with a loud voice and do not make eye contact.
Many of those who are living with Asperger's syndrome enjoy successful lives and have managed to overcome the challenges posed by the syndrome. They are regarded as valuable members of society and the working environment.
Read Health24's comprehensive article on Asperger's syndrome.
Ask an expert
Post a question about Asperger's syndrome and autism to our Autism-spectrum expert.
Association for Autism
Tel: 012 993 4628
Autism South Africa
Tel: 011 484 9909
Medihelp's DVD series
The “'n Lewe met” series is based on Medihelp's popular documentary DVD series “Living With”, which deals with 13 different mental health conditions. In-depth information is provided on the conditions and how they affect the people and their families who are living with these conditions. Every DVD in the series also includes an information guide containing more information on the condition and details of support groups. DVDs cost R189 each and can be ordered on their website: www.medihelplivingwith.co.za
(Compiled by Medihelp and Health24, November 2011)