Asperger’s Syndrome is considered to be the least severe and mildest form of autism. It is mainly characterized by normal to above-average intelligence but lacks communication and social skills, thus being considered as a high-functioning type of Autism; people with this condition also distinctly adheres to a repetitive or strict pattern behavior.
Asperger’s used to be a separate diagnosis on its own. However, it is now included in a broader category known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, according to the standard used by medical experts, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5.
Normally, Asperger disorder is diagnosed during late childhood or early adulthood. A child may show early signs of the disorder during the first year of life but still, it is quite difficult to diagnose a child during those early years. So, let us get to know the tell-tale signs and symptoms of a person with Asperger’s syndrome.
Signs and Symptoms
There are a number of signs and symptoms that an individual may manifest. A person can show a few or more or he/she could manifest all of the significant characteristics in Asperger’s syndrome.
One of the most indicative signs of a person with Asperger’s is lacking in social interaction. Common symptoms include:
⦁ Problems in building and maintaining friendships
People with Asperger’s may find it difficult to make new friends and even harder to keep them. Although they express their desire to make new friends, they find it very hard mostly because they don’t have the confidence to make the first move, of their awkward approach, and they can’t think of a good conversation starter.
In children, one may notice that a child doesn’t make friends with children their age that is because it is difficult for them to keep up with the conversation or play.
⦁ Minimal interaction or isolation during social scenarios
Because they don’t know how to cope with conversation much more to the scenario, people with Asperger’s tend to isolate themselves during social situations. Although they do acknowledge your presence, they only talk to you when being asked, and go back and isolate themselves thereafter.
⦁ Poor eye contact
People with this condition are not comfortable looking into the other’s eye. Most probably because they don’t have the confidence and are quite intimidated in themselves. This is also the reason that you will see a person with Asperger’s staring at others. Other’s may find it rude but they just want to observe a person’s reaction because they don’t have the ability to comprehend non-verbal cues well.
⦁ Hard time understanding gestures
Because they don’t interact well with others, they also have a hard time understanding non-verbal cues. Others may think that they don’t have empathy, but it’s just that they just don’t understand at all. If you want to tell them something, then you have to say it; otherwise, you won’t get a response from them.
⦁ Cannot acknowledge humor, sarcasm, and irony
Unless you spell it out to them, people with Asperger’s cannot pick up your humor, sarcasm, and the like. They lack intuition and spontaneity, thus making it hard for them to recognize and differentiate humor, an irony, and a touch of sarcasm from each other.
⦁ Long-winded or one-sided conversation
Persons with Asperger’s normally have normal to above-average IG and even higher than that. The tendency is they dominate the conversations without even noticing if you are listening or still interested in the topic.
To an outsider, this may seem like conversation dominance and may make them think that an “Aspie” does not care about what others feel and think, but that is not the case. Others may also think that they are rude because they tend to be blunt and somehow insensitive with their choice of words without even thinking that what they say or do have already offended the other party, but that is not the way it is. They just become too interested in their flight of ideas.
⦁ Preference of a strict routine or patterned events
As like other autism conditions, individuals with Asperger’s prefer to follow a strict routine. By following a strict routine, they feel like they got a sense of control of what is to happen next, thus they feel more secure, relieve, and at ease. If the routine or pattern has deviated, they feel upset and anxious as they try to bring it back to how it was supposed to be.
⦁ Odd Mannerisms
People with this condition tend to manifest odd mannerisms. This is their means to relax and calm themselves, especially in anxious situations. By doing such mannerisms, they feel like they are in control, thus reducing their anxiety.
⦁ Hard time showing empathy, managing emotions, or venting out feelings
Others may think that people with Asperger’s are apathetic, cold, and rigid. However, that is not the case. People with this condition don’t know how to express how they feel, but it doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings at all.
A child or an adult with Asperger’s may manifest one, two, or all of these signs. However, they all do have a difficult time during social situations.
Communication and Speech Issues
Normally, people with Asperger’s does not experience delay in speech like other autism spectrum disorders. However, they have specific speech and communication issues that set them apart from normal people. These are:
⦁ Scripted and Monotonous
People with Asperger’s tend to sound flat and robotic as if they are reading a script or something. They don’t put any intonation, stress, or tone when they speak making it sound like they are a robot.
⦁ Tend to be Loud
Some could not control the loudness of their voice even in libraries, chapels, or somewhere that requires minimal noise, making them look impolite and offensive.
⦁ Lack of modulation in speaking
People with autism and also with Asperger Syndrome don’t incorporate enunciation when they talk. They tend to speak in a monotonous tone without thinking of the need of putting an intonation to stress out what they need to know.
This is probably because they too find it hard to understand it and how intonation changes the whole concept. In fact, a study has been conducted in children to see if they could tell the difference based on the intonation of the speaker. At first, they were able to make a proper interpretation of the sentence; but after changing the modulation, they are left in thin air and remain clueless.
⦁ Repetitive speech
Some people with Asperger’s have echolalia or the condition where one repeats the word or phrase that others say. Although children without ASD go through this stage where they tend to repeat what they hear, this phase usually passes by when the child turns three.
⦁ Hard time using speech in a social situation
Aspies or people with Asperger’s Syndrome have a difficult time to express, especially in a social setting. Not that they don’t know the right word; it is just quite difficult for them to find the right word or thing to say; plus, the pressure they feel during a social situation only makes it worse.
People with Asperger’s even have a broader vocabulary and advanced grammar skills than people without the condition. However, social situations and their difficulty to express make it hard for them to use language appropriately.
Mostly, children and adults with Asperger’s syndrome have normal or beyond-border intelligence. While others do well in school, some might find it hard to cope up.
Here are some of the common cognitive behaviors people with Asperger’s manifests:
⦁ Good memory
Most people with Asperger’s show excellent memory skills. Evidence has suggested that the hippocampus, plays a key role in the consolidation of short-term, long-term, and spatial memory, of most neurodevelopmental disorders, including Asperger’s syndrome, remains untouched. Thus, it means that people across the autism spectrum disorder have good or superior memory skills.
⦁ Good focus on details
Individuals with Asperger’s are more keen on detail. They want every detail to be correct and in place. They may even see the smallest detail there is or that is usually neglected by people without the disease. According to research, people with the condition have an increased capability to focus attention on specific tasks. They can concentrate on things like reading, painting, writing, observing, etc. for extended periods of time.
⦁ Can understand technical or complex information
As we have already ruled out, individuals with Asperger’s have normal to above-average IQ, making them understand technical information unlike other autism disorders. Also, people with this disease have a good focus that is why it is easier for them to understand even complex and technical information. Usually, most, if not all, with this condition likes to solve technical and complex issues as compared to those without the condition.
⦁ Difficulty grasping abstract information
Most people with autism including Asperger’s syndrome have a hard time understanding abstract information. While some may eventually develop abstract skills, others never will. They need detailed information in order to get the information needed.
While there are still other people with Asperger’s who have trouble on comprehension, focus, math, writing, nonverbal associated learning, etc., the fact is many of them don’t have major cognitive issues.
Kids and adults with Asperger’s syndrome do not only experience social impairment, communication and speech issues, and cognitive behaviors, but they also manifest physical symptoms. This includes:
⦁ Delay in the development of Motor Skills
Although the discussion on the motor skills of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, including Asperger’s are mostly focused on repetitive or stereotyped movements, most children with the condition manifest atypical or delayed fine and gross motor skills. A recent empirical research has studied the motor skill proficiency and development of children with ASD; it consistently shows that children with the disease often experience both fine and gross motor delays and unusual motor patterns.
⦁ Awkward movements
Autism Spectrum Disorder has been associated with atypicialities in the range of movement. It includes movement planning, anticipation, preparation and initiation, and feed-forward control. The unusual perceptual processing of people with Autism Spectrum Disorder has been linked to awkward movements because it can influence cognitive input and visual-motor assimilation. Besides, it is quite unclear if awkward movements are uniformly distributed across people with ASD. However, evidence suggests that people with Asperger syndrome manifest more awkward movements than autistic individuals; but, it has not been confirmed yet.
⦁ Sensitivity to odor, noise, food texture and clothing
Individuals with Asperger Syndrome may exhibit under- or over-sensitivity to touch, sound, smell, taste, color, light, temperatures, or pain. They may sense a background noise or a distant smell, which other people disregard, too much to bear. This will cause them to be anxious or feel physical pain.
People with Asperger’s may look awkward or clumsy. They may have trouble with simple fine or gross motor skills. However, some kids and even adults may not manifest any motor problems at all.
People with Asperger’s may tend to be odd. Others may even consider them rude and disrespectful. However, it is best to understand the things that they are going through. For instance, they tend to be blunt and rude because they cannot comprehend well with emotions. They may sound like a robot because they find it hard to grasp the difference in intonation. All these and more make them seem a bit different; but, it is important to understand them and be more kind to them, rather than judging them because of their awkwardness and peculiar attitude.
It is also important to note that these signs and symptoms may or may not manifest in all people with Asperger’s. One person may show one or two or all of these signs. If you know someone or a child that has presented these symptoms typical of Asperger’s, it is best to advise their parents or loved ones to have them checked before it’s too late.