U.S. Report Claims Putin has Asperger's Syndrome

Could Russian leader Vladimir Putin be part of the one percent of the world population struggling with an autism spectrum disorder? That's what a Pentagon think tank believes, according to documents obtained by USA Today via the Freedom of Information Act.

Brenda Conners, a movement pattern analysis expert from the U.S. Naval War College in Rhode Island, wrote in a 2008 report that Putin's "neurological development was significantly interrupted in infancy." She says that studies of his movement show "that the Russian President carries a neurological abnormality."

World Leader on the Spectrum

The report also contains information from Dr. Stephen Porges, now a University of North Carolina psychiatry professor, who concluded that "Putin carries a form of autism." When asked this week about the findings, he said he'd never read the finished report and "would back off saying he has Asperger's."

Porges did have some ideas for effectively dealing with Putin, including doing so in quieter settings and being aware of the fact that his facial expressions and behavior show that he's defensive in larger social settings. "If you need to do things with him, you don't want to be in a big state affair but more of one-on-one situation someplace somewhere quiet," Porges said.

Those characteristics identified in Putin are also common in those with Asperger's or other autistic spectrum disorders. You can learn more about typical symptoms in this video.

Of course, the information in the government documents is all speculation, since the researchers never an an opportunity to perform a brain scan on Putin. The reports do say that autism specialists agree with the findings, but it's unknown whether the Pentagon ever used this information in any way.

A Growing Problem Worldwide

If Putin is, indeed, on the autistic spectrum, he's not alone. In addition to the one percent global statistic, the Autism Society estimates that one in 68 children born in America are there, too, and AutismAroundTheGlobe.org says that the number of autism cases is steadily rising in Russia. In the U.S., we're getting better at early diagnosis, as this video discusses.

If you have a family member with on the autistic spectrum, you can seek support from many organizations. They include the Autism Support Network, the Autism Society, and Autism Speaks.