The Ten Characteristics Of Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s syndrome is a form of high functioning Autism. Some medical professionals have shortened this to ASD but I personally like the term Aspie. According to those that have studied numerous Aspies just like me, ASD is a mild form of the disorder and tends to not manifest any detrimental disorders along with it.
However Asperger Syndrome does not make life easier. It can make life very difficult. The main symptoms of Aspies are poor social skills, a lack in nonverbal communication, and clumsiness. We are basically all Goofy, you know Mickey’s friend. Many forms of autism have shown a common structurization of the brains pathways but Asperger’s Syndrome has not.
Researchers hypothesize that there may be a genetic link to Asperger’s Syndrome because in most case more than one person in a household has the disorder. As of now no such like has been identified in relation to Asperger’s Syndrome. However I believe it has to do with either chromosome 16 or 21 because my father and I have a genetic mutation on both chromosomes and we both have Asperger’s Syndrome.
Researcher’s have hypothesized as well that mutations on chromosome 16 may have a relation to Asperger’s Syndrome. It is also believed that exposure to certain medications and chemical compounds while in utero are thought to contribute to the syndrome as well.
This could also be a possibility for me because my parents went through fertility treatments for ten years before conceiving me. The numerous treatments and medications could have exposed me in utero to some chemical that affected my development.
There are many different hypotheses of how a child could develop Asperger’s Syndrome, but no hypothesis has been conclusive to date. Hundreds of medical researchers from around the world are working on finding the cause for this disorder and ways of treating the symptoms.
- Failure to Develop Friendships
Children and Adults with Asperger’s Syndrome may have difficulty Children who have Asperger’s syndrome may have difficulty creating and keeping friendships. They don’t appear to connect with their peers. This is because Aspies lack innate social skills, skills their peers were born with. As a child, I wanted desperately to connect with my peers and have friends. It just did not come naturally. Also Aspies can be so desperate to have friends that they can make friends that are detrimental to their development, or worse pretend to be their friend and tell the whole school what a freak your child is. There are also kids who are the opposite, kids who do not want to make friends and prefer to be alone. I was not a kid who desired to be alone because there was no hope in making friends. I do understand the concept though. If interacting with your peers brings you nothing but pain and ridicule, you learn you are better on your own, than with someone who hurts you.
- Selective Mutism
Many children with Asperger’s will be selective in who they interact with, or selective mutism. Young children with Asperger’s may demonstrate selective mutism as a symptom. This occurs when they will only speak freely with people they are comfortable with, and may not speak at all to strangers. Extreme cases last for years. Immediate family members are typically unaffected, as the child often feels comfortable speaking to them.
Selective mutism more often occurs at school and in public and some children may refuse to speak to anyone starting from a very young age. This condition can go away on its own, or your child may benefit from therapy.
- Inability to Empathize
Individuals with Asperger’s syndrome may find difficulty empathizing with others. As they age, the affected person will learn the accepted social response for interacting with others. While they may react appropriately and say the “right” things, they may not understand why the other person is truly upset. Aspies tend to be blunt as well. They may say the truth without realizing that the truth can hurt. You have to explain to your child that while what you said was totally true. It can hurt a person’s feelings to hear the truth about their lives from another.
- Unable to Make Eye Contact or Forcing Eye Contact
Many people with Asperger’s including myself have had trouble making eye contact with people. Some find eye contact so difficult that it is painful for them to do so. I personally feel that it comes from a lack of self confidence. People who suffer from Asperger’s syndrome may find it difficult to make and hold eye contact with people they are speaking to. Some believe this condition is brought about from a lack ovf confidence. Others recount how making eye contact can make them very uncomfortable, almost painful.
- Social Awkwardness
People with Asperger’s Syndrome are considered to lake passion and a zest for life. This idea is simply untrue. They are considered to have a lack of passion because they are socially awkward. Some of the best books cannot be judged by the cover. A common term many medical professionals use to describe people with Asperger’s is “active but odd” As they grow older Aspies can become very socially active and form close friendships. Others may try to surround themselves with people at all times and make lots of close acquaintances but no deep friendships. A lot of this can be related to how well an Aspie can empathize with other. People with Asperger’s may not show many visible signs of the illness the older they get.
- Narrowed Interests
Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome may have trouble in school, but that does not mean they do not have special interests. My special interests include Pokemon, Sailor Moon, Spanish, Japanese, French and Disney. My interests have changed over the years as well. For the longest time I was super interested in Dinosaurs. Some interests run their course and are forgotten but others can stay with a child forever. Children with Asperger’s are different than other children. Instead of having a broad array of interests with a little passion for each they have narrowed interests with tons of passion for them. Your child may be different their interests could be playing video games, making models, or drawing. These activities help a child to escape from the scary world around them. It is a source of comfort. Just like a dog who snuggles up under the covers during a storm; a child who has had a stormy frustrating day comes home to their interest and finds relief and can forget about the day they had. In the past I have had horrible days at school and when I got home I played pokemon. Playing pokemon not only helped me to escape but it let me think about and process the ordeals of the day. Special interests not only help a child escape but it helps them to collect their thoughts and learn from the day they had. But many children do not have the opportunity to play because of the mountains of homework they have been given. Luckily my mother insisted that teachers limit the amount of homework I had because I was overstimulated from the day and needed to wind down.
- Sticking to Routine
Sticking to a routine is essential to the health of a person with Asperger’s Syndrome. Without a routine they may become greatly distressed and disturbed. New situations especially can be anxiety inducing. Sticking to a routine can be very important for people with Asperger’s syndrome. One of the worst times I had with this was at one of my cousins fifth anniversary party. We went to bucca di beppo. The place is loud and the decorations cover every inch of free space in the restaurant. I was in tears by the time I left. What can help your child in most situations is to tell them ahead a time about the place they are going and what is expected of them. Give them as much detail as you possibly can. This can help them to know what they are getting themselves into and can help make a change in routine more pleasant. Routines are helpful and can reduce anxiety but if an aspie relies too much on routine, they could reach a point where they stop experiencing new things. You need to take your child out of a routine every now and then so that they get more used too changes in routine.
- Literal Interpretations
Have you ever read an Amelia Bedilia storybook. Amelia is a person who takes every word literally. She has many misadventures as a maid in her books. In the same way Aspies take every word at face value. It is one of the key factors in diagnosing Asperger’s Syndrome. An Aspie may not understand or recognize sarcasm. They can be taught in most cases however. I did not understand sarcasm until I was twelve. That was about the same time I started to watch The Big Bang Theory. I did not have much of a sense of humor because I took things literally. Watching Scheldon on The Big Bang Theory helped me to see the error of my thinking. Just because you have Asperger’s Syndrome does not mean you do not have a sense of humor. Aspies can be some of the most hilarious people you will ever meet. Bill Murray has been characterized as having Asperger’s Syndrome and he is absolutely hilarious. When Aspies realize the fault in their literal interpretations they are able to understand the true meaning instead of the literal one. It just takes us time to understand it does not mean we will take things literally forever.
- Excellent Pattern Recognition
Pattern Recognition is something most Aspies are great at. This does not just mean patterns in number sequences but patterns in all areas of life. After studying communications and receiving a degree in the field I am able to recognize social patterns as well. Pattern recognition has helped me to learn Japanese and Spanish. The grammatical terms are like patterns for sentences. I can construct a sentence as if it were a pattern of numbers. An Aspies uses patterns to make sense of the world around them. A break in a pattern can become very clear to a person with Asperger’s Syndrome. This ability can become evident when they are a child. Education helps to develop the neural pathways for pattern recognition. Aspies may find school settings difficult and struggle, pattern problems in subjects like math and art can be very helpful for fostering this natural talent.
- Poor Motor Skills
Many people with Asperger’s Syndrome may find it difficult to control their fine and gross motor skills. Many appear to be clumsy and doltish because of this. These motor skills may manifest as poor handwriting, and little hand eye coordination. Some can’t even walk in a straight line. I myself was very clumsy when I was younger. It took several years of physical and occupational therapy to overcome my lack of motor skills.
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If your or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms it does not hurt to get a second opinion. Ask your family doctor and have them recommend someone who can help diagnose if there is a problem or not. While these symptoms do not simply indicate Asperger’s, It is better to be safe than sorry