The Other Austism Spectrum
Asperger’s symptoms are similar to those of the other Austism Spectrum Disorders (ASD’s) including Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) . Asperger’s Syndrome is on the higher-functioning end of the autism spectrum and, within this level, an individual’s symptoms can range from mild to severe.
Generally speaking, individuals with AS and related disorders lack severely in social and communication skills despite the fact that their IQs typically range from normal to very high and their rote memory (associated with strict memorization) often is superior to the rest of us.
Asperger’s symptoms differ from person to person and may include 1 or more of the following characteristics:
It’s rather typical for someone with AS to be extremely sensitive to the environment, loud noises, clothing and food textures, and odors.
An apparent lack of nonverbal behaviors like eye contact or gaze, facial expression, body posture, and social gestures like waving are also common as is a later than usual development in language. When individuals with AS speak, it could be in a monitone-like drone, lacking in volume, intonation, inflection and rhythm. It’s also quite common for AS children to speak in a formally scientific way – this has been dubbed « little professor » verbose.
Depending on the severity of the disorder, the individual will take everything that they hear literally. They have a hard time with implied meanings and sense of humor or sarcasm. On the other hand, a vast vocabulary is common in As individuals as is the fact that they start reading at an early age (hyperlexia).
In various social settings, people who suffer from AS often display socially and emotionally inappropriate behaviors. It’s often difficult for them to partake in the natural « give and take » of a conversation. A lot of this has to do with their possible and unwavering obsession with just one particular subject. They might not have a real concept of personal space and often stand too close. AS individuals likely find it very difficult to read and interpret social cues and understand the feelings of others.
Unfortunately, As individuals also struggle when it comes to developing relationships with people their own age. (for example, one Asperger’s symptom common in children is that they are more comfortable with adults than with other children).
« Unnatural » repetition is another common trait and this shows up in the form of inflexible adherence to strict routines and unintentional, continuous, repetitive behavior, speech, or thoughts, and stereotyped or repetitive motor mannerisms. A rather specific symptom worth mentioning is that those with AS are often fascinated with maps, globes and routes.
Although individuals with AS do want to fit in socially and have friends, the disorder causes them a great deal of difficulty making what we consider normal social connections. It’s partly for this reason that, unfortunately, many are at risk for developing mood disorders, anxiety or depression, especially in adolescence.
Luckily, the treatment and therapy for Asperger’s symptoms is continuosly becomeing more advanced and effective.