Key Characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome

Social Interaction

Children with AS have great difficulties in relating to others, especially their peers. Other children find them odd and awkward in their attempts to make friends. They do not easily pick up on the unwritten rules of social contact. Instead they have to be taught social skills, and even then they will have difficulty in using their skills in different situations.

They are likely to find it difficult to show or recognise emotion (both in themselves and others), and in understanding facial expression, eye contact and other non-verbal communication.
AS suffers usually say exactly what they mean, and will not understand the need to adapt what they say because of the effect it may have on others, e.g. an AS sufferer will quite happily state that a fact (because it is a fact!) – such as a person is fat or ugly – without realising that in saying so they may hurt a person’s feelings.

Communication

Although basic language abilities are at least average, the verbal language of a child with AS appears formal, often limited to set phrases. Speech may be over precise or over literal and on occasions it may become repetitive. Vocabulary used may also be inappropriate to the situation.

AS children have difficulty starting conversations and keeping them going. They also find it difficult to recognise the usual rules of listening, reflecting and taking turns that are included in normal conversations. Conversations tend to be one-sided with the AS sufferer displaying an intense interest in a particular topic, and due to the difficulties they encounter with non-verbal signs , they are not able to read and understand that others may not feel the same passion for the topic!

Special Interests

AS sufferers usually prefer fact to fiction, they can become very knowledgeable on factual matter. Often they have an intense interest in a particular subject matter, object, facts and/or figures and on occasion this may become an obsession.
They find it difficult to cope with everyday life without making reference to their particular interest (e.g. train timetables/trains).

Imagination and Creativity

AS sufferers tend to view most aspects of their life in ‘black and white’, they are able to deal with concrete facts and figures but are not able to apply these in an imaginative/creative way. They have great difficulty with fictional matter and if asked to write a story, most would base their story on their experiences or subjects they know to be factual.

Reliance on Routine

Individuals with AS often rely heavily on routine, such as always having to follow the same route to school, perhaps touching certain objects along the way, crossing at exactly the same point, and unexpected happenings and changes (however minor) to this set routine can cause extreme anxiety. AS sufferers, perhaps in order to make sense of the world around them, often tend to plan and order their lives around these set patterns and routines.

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