What is a Symptom of Aspergers Syndrome?

In this article I will explore the symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome.

There are a number of symptoms associated with both children and adults with Aspergers Syndrome. These symptoms include:

1. Difficulty with social relationships – Many people with Aspergers syndrome have problems in understanding how other people think and feel.They find it difficult to understand facial expressions and all the non-verbal signals people use to communicate in everyday life. This can lead to socially inappropriate behavior. Some people with Aspergers want to be sociable and enjoy the company of other people whilst others are happy with their own company.

2. Difficulty with communication – People with Aspergers syndrome do not usually have the speech problems experienced by people with classic autism, they can be good talkers. The problems with communication lie in their inability to take notice of the reaction of the people they are talking to; they may continue to talk about one topic even though the other person has become (or never was) interested. Their tone of voice may seem flat and they fail to use appropriate facial expression or make eye contact.

3. Lack of imagination – People with Aspergers syndrome often excel at factual work, the kind of work that deals with facts and statistics but they can find it hard to use their imagination. They may have narrow areas of interest that they can become fanatical about and they can become attached to specific routines, for example always doing things in the same order when getting ready to go out in the morning. If for some reason they cannot follow their routine they can become upset and agitated or even angry.

4. Other – Many people with Aspergers also have difficulties dealing with change and may lack what is considered to be basic common sense. However people with the condition are not ‘backward’ in any way and usually have average, if not higher than average levels of intelligence. In fact it is said that many of the so-called “techno-nerds” that work at the cutting edge internet and computer companies in Silicon Valley, near San Francisco, may well have Aspergers. And those guys have some serious brain matter!

To give some background; Aspergers syndrome is a form of autism that was defined by an Austrian pediatrician over 50 years ago. Autistic Spectrum Disorder (autism) is a life-long developmental disability that affects social and communication skills. Each person with autism displays different symptoms and behavior; some people with autism remain non-verbal and will need life-long care. Other people with the condition live independent lives, hold down careers, go to university, get married and have children.

People with Aspergers syndrome are usually at this more ‘able’ end of the spectrum. Like autism, Aspergers syndrome, seems to be caused by a biological difference in the brain’s development. In many cases there appears to be a genetic cause; there are many cases of autism and Aspergers syndrome running in the same family. One study has estimated that 3 to 7 in 1,000 people have Aspergers Syndrome. People with Aspergers Syndrome share many of the same characteristics as people with autism but they usually do not have any accompanying learning disabilities.

Those with Aspergers syndrome are different and unique people in their own right. However social problems, unusual verbal and non-verbal expressions and specific interests do seem to be common features of Aspergers. Sensory problems can be an area of difficulty for people with Aspergers. This means that certain sights, noises, tastes and textures can bother the person more than they would a person without Aspergers. Problems with food and eating are common.

Many people mistakenly believe that children with Aspergers are simply naughty and that they can be dealt with in the same way as children without the condition. Often, what appears to be ‘bad’ behavior on the part of the child has been triggered by something that has upset them. That is not to say that all of the child’s behavior can be excused because of the Aspergers or that you shouldn’t try to explain why certain behaviors are unacceptable. Separating what is Aspergers and what is deliberately poor behavior is difficult, with many parents claiming to never be entirely sure if they have got it right. However a 50-50 approach is advisable. A person with Aspergers should try to learn the necessary social skills to function in regular, everyday life but if we are living or working closely with someone with the condition we too should try to enter into their world at times in order to understand them better.